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


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