Yesterday we went on a Riverfly Monitor Training Programme organised by Gwent Wildlife Trust, Riverflies.org and the Enviroment Agency.
This was held at the Enviroment Resources Centre in Ebbw Vale. This was the first time I’ve been there. It’s a lovely site and we were greeted by loads of House Martins and Swallows. Some were using an abandoned build for nesting so were flying in and out of the broken windows. Waiting outside also bought me my first Cuckoo of the year so that was a serious bonus!
First things first and coffee! Then the inevitable Health and Safety, actually pretty important if you are going to be going into rivers!
The idea of the monitoring is to measure how many of certain invertebrates are in the river as an indicator to river health and pollution. We were shown the types of invertebratese we would be hoping to catch – Cased and Caseless Caddis, Mayfly, Blue Winged Olives , Flat Bodied Heptageniidae, Olives, Stoneflies and Gammarus.
We were then shown how to conduct and collect the sample. This is basically a 3 minute kick test, where you dislodge the substrate and collect the inverts in the net using the flow of the water.
Another quick coffee and then off to the river to get our samples.
3 minute kick test. It’s surprisingly hard to keep your balance when kicking up the substrate. Thankfully no-one fell over!
Dipping the net helps wash the invertebrates to the bottom of the net.
Checking under larger stones for more.
Then we had to put the catch into the tray. Some of the inverts stick to the net and you have to make sure you get them all off.
This is our catch. If you look closely on the left hand side you can see a large leech we caught. It vanished later, no idea where it went!
A rare photo of me. Checking stones for inverts.
We then put it all into buckets and went back to the Centre for lunch.
After that we set about identifying and counting our catch. You leave behind the most numerous to estimate how many there are and then separate out the remaining species. It’s quite hard to begin with but you soon get the hang of the IDing (catching them takes a bit more practice!)
These are some Gammarus (freshwater shrimps). It appears these two are mating! The smaller invert is an Olive.
One decided to hatch. This is an emerging Iron Blue.
Here’s everyone separating the catches out. It felt a bit like being back in the labs in school!
We were very lucky and caught a Cased Caddis and a Flat Bodied Heptageniidae. Amazing creatures. Our final count was
Cased Caddis – 1
Caseless Caddis – 7
Blue Winged Olives – 37
Olives – 180
Gammarus – 35
Stoneflies – 1
Flat Bodied Heptageniidae – 1
All in all a nice haul.
We were given certificates by Dai Roberts the trainer to say we had completed the course. A nice touch. We are now in contact with them to set up our monitoring site and then the monthly fun starts. Can’t wait to get in our river to see what’s there. I will let you all know what happens and how it goes.
Thanks again to everyone for organising it. Especially Dai Roberts the trainer, Sorrel Jones from Gwent Wildlife Trust, Bruce from the Enviroment Agency and Jess Pugh, an experienced monitor would help us collect and ID.
We also met Alice from Gwent Wildlife there and hopefully we will be doing Mink Monitoring soon too!