My walks in February have been sporadic yet each one yields a new drama… and in between there have been postings about the brown waters running through the Glen despite the lack of rain.
on Saturday the fifth I was one of a booted group of water warriors/worriers looking on as Simon from UCC demonstrated the tools of his trade. As we watch It emerges that we are semi-circled around a small hummock, which has only became pre-emeninent since Simon bows over it with tweezer in hand, and lifts from its crown a greyish, gritty and mucousy matter – Otter Spraint he informs us – which does not smell at all of violets as i have heard, but sweetly salty. We sniff it in turn and cheer for these elusive leavings as evidence of riparian life.
The water bed is covered in a greyish silt, even as the water rushes over it…none of us want to go there as the tweezers extract a delicate fragment of tissue. He does a river bed shuffle, raising the life from its sunken place and casts his net, allowing the swift flow of water to feed into it, the disturbed elements. He does this 3 times hopping and riffling into the one netting before depositing its load into the white sample tray. We are hopeful and not hopeful in equal measure, greedy for sightings of indicating species either/both good or/and bad, we want it all. We find a leech, its sucker glueing it to the plastic base, there is a tiny snail leaving its faintly drawn trails on the plastic … both bad, and the third bad is a waterlouse, with its feelers and legs… I feel for them, poor enemies of clean water indications, always the bad guys, just living their lives in the conditions given… Out of two scoopings we get 6 minuses – the maximum in our test – and 0 plusses, no innocent caddis fly larva, no delicate mayfly or sensitive stone fly, we are at optimum water pollution. We should do one more scooping nearby but it seems fairly conclusive and this is a demonstration situation, we get the drift. I am partially pleased , this is ammunition for action, and the Otter Spraint is evidence for another argument to clean up.
Later in the week begin the postings of the brown water, my memories of healthy rivers after the rain are dashed, as we have had none; it’s been a dry February. The water is brown from another kind of disturbance – machines and earth moving for construction, a development up-stream. In the same week IF has persuaded the chief council environmental engineer to go drain hunting, and they have found in one visit two sources of sewage seepage, leaking into the river near to its source: one is feeding into the storm drains and another is caused by a blockage, just a stone’s throw upstream. There are promises for fixings afoot. Even if it’s a long haul.
There have also been some of those renowned Glen pink skies
And there has been some activity in the Fleischmann place at the bottom of the zigzag – plastic drinks bottles topped and tailed into quivers bearing leaf feathered cuttings of bay and other snipped branches. These are hoisted, suspended and otherwise dangling in trees and bushes, their fancy harnesses taking carefully poised positions, over water, tucked into the growth and suspended from branches… each visit I make bringing more… there might soon be a proliferation
..later I am informed these are… bug motels, possibly put there by children.