Himalayan Balsam on the River Tale 2011

July 17, 2011

Himalayan Balsam on the river Tale 2011 - June 29/30

On day one we had 5 all day & 3 part day volunteers, 4 of whom were first timers in the river.  After each stretch we mixed the teams so everyone met.  More eyes & hands resulted in us reaching from our starting point at Danes Mill right down to the A30 at Fairmile.

Overall the volume of balsam was no worse than last year & despite early warm weather the plants wernt any further developed than previous years.  Some areas had heavier infestation, such as the leat through Rydon Farm, & the Escot demonstration walk, but other areas were noticeably more clear.  In particular a side ditch near Escot Church which previously has taken up to an hour had only a handful of plants & was cleared in under 10 minutes.


On day two we had a new mix of 8 volunteers + 2 representatives of the River Otter Association who joined us to see how we operate, in case they can replicate our work on parts of the Otter.  With 10 people in the river we cleared from Fairmile to the confluence at Cadhay Bridge by mid morning.  This left the rest of the day for some chainsaw work – clearing log jams & coppicing overgrowth of bank side willow & alder.  Teamwork meant productivity was fantastic. 

Working upriver from Cadhay we cleared a stretch through Pitt Farm to Taleford, a log jam above Fairmile, a stretch past Escot church, a stretch through the upper water meadows in Escot Park, & finally a stretch through Rydon Farm north east of Talaton. 

An exceptional 2 days which would not have been possible without all our volunteers, to whom a huge thank you.  Thanks too must go to Talaton Parish Council who contributed towards essential costs.


The River

The Tale was in excellent condition.  The water level was understandably low after very little rain, but as the volunteers will vouch, there are numerous deep pools, harbouring a very healthy population of minnows, bullheads (millers’ thumb), & brown trout.

River weed growth was good although patches were almost out of water.  Insect life was abundant & native marginal plants such as waterforgetmenot, brooklime, fools water cress & burr reed – to mention just a few, were thriving.  The stock fencing above Tuck Mill has been renewed both on the river & the side leat, & the cattle crossing & drinking point has been improved.  Vegetation was lush & wildlife was abundant.


We saw dippers, a kingfisher, mallard with ducklings, & a pheasant with 7 or 8 chicks.  Most excitingly & rewardingly for the TVT & the valley’s riparian owners & guardians were the numerous healthy signs of water voles & otters along almost the entire length of the river.  This is such a positive achievement for the Trust’s years of commitment to the wellbeing of the valley & the river corridor. 

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