Wildlife survey to reveal health of Keynsham river

Published on: 02 Oct 2015

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Keynsham’s waterways will be getting an annual health check-up, thanks to volunteers from the Keynsham branch of the Avon Wildlife Trust. Here, the group explains what their findings tell us about wildlife in the area and how you can get involved.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Avon Wildlife Trust/Wellsway School Green Team’s annual pollution survey of the river Chew at Dapp’s Hill Bridge. 

This survey, led by Dave Sage, chair of Keynsham’s local Avon Wildlife Trust group and Wellsway School teacher, involves people of all ages and abilities getting in the river and “kick sampling” in the stones and gravel to see what invertebrate animals are found there. 

The range and types of these small animals are excellent indicators of the water quality in the river. 

In the early years, overflowing septic tanks occasionally polluted the river, as shown by blooms of blanket weed and sewage fungus. However, since mains sewerage systems were installed, water quality has steadily improved, with indicator species such as stonefly nymphs, mayfly nymphs and caddis fly larvae increasing in frequency. 

Further evidence is shown by plenty of fish, including carp, perch, rudd, roach and eels, providing plenty of food for top predators such as herons and kingfishers.

Also passing through, feeding on these fish, are sure to be ever-increasing otters, the topic of our first talk of the season, Otters on my Doorstep by Gill Brown from the YACWAG (Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group) otter group, at the Baptist Church Hall in the High Street, on Friday, October 9, at 7.30 pm. Cost for adults is £2.50 (unless you subscribe to our “seven talks for the cost of six” deal, by paying £15 on the evening). 

If you fancy helping us with our pollution survey, it takes place on Sunday, October 11, at Dapp’s Hill Bridge, Keynsham, from 2-5 pm. You will need a good pair of wellies but no previous experience. It is good fun, educational and a worthwhile way of monitoring the health of the local environment. 

For more information, email dsage@wellswayschool.com.

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