Monday, 22 September 2014

Lincolnshire River Trust: The Witham Catchment

As a child I used to visit Grantham quite a bit to see my great grandparents and I always looked forward to seeing the River Witham in Wyndham Park, along with all the fish and ducks, which really set me on a path to becoming a professional wildlife photographer. So when the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust hired me to film the Witham from source to sea I jumped at the chance at seeing my childhood haunt!

The idea was to produce a film of the Witham catchment showing groups and locals’ opinions of the river and highlighting issues as well as wildlife. As part of the Catchment Based Approach, funded by DEFRA, the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust host the Witham Partnership, which is trying to protect, enhance and restore the catchment.

Upper Reaches: Grantham 

Firstly I joined the Grantham Rivercare Group who had organised a clear up day taking rubbish out of the river, it was fantastic to see locals so interested in their river and I wish more rivers had groups like this.

Duck passes over brown trout

Not wanting to leave the wildlife out i was pleased to find a few fish to film in what was quite a urban setting.


Dace, Chub, Roach and Brown Trout! 

 Jake with a male and female

Further up the river nearer to its source we met Jake Reeds of the Environment Agency who was looking for White Clawed Crayfish (under licence). This gave me an opportunity I've waited a long time for…filming/photographing these incredible crustaceans in an English river.

White clawed crayfish are critically threatened

I've been coming to the Witham for years and didn't even know these little guys were in it (lots of water voles too!) which is partly why the trust wanted me to make this film, to show of its wildlife as well as interviewing locals and groups on their views of the river.

Middle Reaches: Lincoln

The Brayford Pool has plenty below the surface

After interviewing the Environment Agency, Sea Cadets and the leader of Lincoln City Council, I went on to film some of Lincoln's wildlife. The Brayford Pool is an area often over looked and I even had a member of the public say the classic line "There's nothing in there”. Well I hope he sees this blog, because we found a massive abundance of roach, perch, rudd and a hungry pike.

Lauren Tewson the Director of LRT and members of the angling match at Tattershall

I also caught the end of an angling match near Tattershall Bridge, plenty of fish were caught including a large tench, and a good mixture of bream, perch, dace and roach.

Lower Reaches: Boston

 Kingfisher looking for a meal

Boston was the biggest surprise for me as it seemed to have a wealth of bird life, including this quite bold kingfisher which was quite happy to let me snap away. It was fantastic watching it catching fish in such an industrial setting.

 Bitten off more then it can chew

Another good fishermen is the cormorant, though maybe not quite so graceful. I watched a group of five and they were expert hunters, it was interesting to note that their success rate for catching fish was very high, about every 3 or so dives resulted in a fish like this huge eel!

 Because they're effective hunters they're not too popular with anglers.

This cormorant even caught a pike, which was in the brackish end of the river, so shows they can tolerate some saline water.

The mudflats provide great feeding for waders

The end of my journey brought me to the mudflats were the Witham goes into the Haven and that empties into the Wash. It’s incredible to see a river change as you go through its reaches and I would recommend anyone to do it in order to see a variety of wildlife and habitats. The finished film will be out before the end of the year and online for everyone to see.

BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporter
Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The OakTree Inn seemed very keen to promote the Arctic Charr (and they taste incredible) 

So last week took me to Loch Lomond one of the largest bodies of freshwater in the UK (or scotland depending how the vote goes) 5 miles at its widest and 623ft deep theres a lot of water for me to cover. My main target was one of the rarest fish in Great Britain the Powan which normally live in deep glacial lakes.

Rocking the one strap (Image Josh Jaggard)

Luckily I was in the capable hands of Oliver Hooker of the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE) They take eggs from the adult powan and rear the fry to be studied and released back into the loch which is where i got my chance to take a few images.

Juvenile Powan released into the Loch

Powan have a few problems facing them from climate change, eutrophication and one of the biggest threats the invasive ruffe that eats the young and eggs.

A almost shocked looking Powan

The large eyes are ideal for living in the deep dark depths of Lochs

You can just make out the adipose fin between the dorsal and tail which distinguishes the fish from small silver fish like dace and roach which it may be confused with at a young age.

Atlantic Salmon Parr

As well as Powan SCENE study Arctic Charr, Brown Trout and Salmon.

One or two fish in the Loch

Despite its size its relatively easy to find signs of fish in the loch with perch, roach and pike being very abundant.

Brown Trout Parr in the River Endrick

The Endrick flows into lomond and provides a great habitat for Brown Trout.

Gudgeon Feeding

I was surprised to see the number of gudgeon both in the Loch and the rivers that go into and some monsters to! If anyone fancies getting the record gudgeon get to Lomond!

Shoal of Roach & Perch

Even though the water was fairly clear it had a huge amount of back scatter which is problematic for the underwater photographer an largely ruins most shots like this of the mega shoal made up of roach, perch, gudgeon and ruffe near the pier at balhama.

Calm day on Loch Lomond (Image: Josh Jaggard)

Over all the trip was a success and really enjoyed taking some images underwater in Scotland something i hope to build on in the coming years.

BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporter
Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography