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Another Wet Day

Friday, March 16th 2018

The wet weather of yesterday has continued throughout today and, while there has been the chance to do a number of small jobs such as making sure that the ties on three Juniper trees next to the Heathland were properly secured and cutting back where Birch and Willow branches had been damaged, a priority has been to keep drains clear so that water can flow under footpath surfaces or maintain the flow of water to smaller ponds.

The amount of water flowing through Foxglove today has been very impressive and Risedale Bank has been at its highest for some time.  The dams created to help feed the valley's ponds were almost undetectable below the surface with the tree lying across the beck, which is normally at least 30 centimetres above the river, being regularly lapped by waves going downstream.  The pipes taking the water from the pond which had the liner removed last Saturday had become blocked and the water was instead flooding across the path.  Clearing this was straightforward and the levels in the drain and the pond dropped quickly.  This was the first of many similar jobs.

The Willow Spiling in the beck has been tested yesterday and today and is providing excellent protection for the river bank.  One task later this year will be to extend this further downstream along the bank.

A different form of protection are the Mink rafts that are strategically placed around the Reserve.  Our population of Water Voles are important both for biodiversity and the interest they generate from visitors.  Their numbers nationally have dropped dramatically with predation by American Mink being one contributory factor.  The Mink rafts are our first line of defence.  These animals are incredibly curious and seem unable to resist looking into holes.  The rafts are tied in place to float on the water and provide a tunnel with a cartidge of clay which will have the imprint of the feet of animals that walk through.  This will let us know if American Mink are around.

One casualty of the recent heavy rain and meltwater has been one of the rafts.  While the wooden structure has been able to cope with the increased volume of water, the increased power of the flow has ripped out the clay cartridge which is unlikely to be recovered.  We will be replacing this quickly to maintain our defence for the Water Voles.


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