.....there's a heron about!
Before winter sets in there is one important job to be done in the fields (apart from the mending of walls where the summer beast have knocked them down). Our beck needs cleaning out.
Water crowfoot, water forget me not, water cress - all have grown in profusion until they have formed a thick coat to the beck - perfect cover for the bullheads, minnows and sticklebacks which live there.
But sadly these plants also inhibit the flow of water. When heavy rain is forecast there is a likelihood that the beck will overflow and begin to flood the fields - so all the farmers on its length will be looking to clean it out. Some have already started - as I walked the lane today I saw our neighbouring farmer standing in the water in his wellies, pulling at swathes of weed.
My farmer uses a digger on the front of his tractor, pulling out the weed and then going through it carefully so that he can throw back any little fish which have been caught in it. Some will inevitably die but the majority will be back in the water in no time.
There are trout too. In the early part of the twentieth century the "big house", about two miles downstream from our fields, used to breed trout for the table. The local boys in our village used to watch the big ones swim upstream and then when the trout were in the village they would put a net across the beck to stop them going back 'home'. Many a trout feast would be had from stolen fish.
Now the trout are only small but there are plenty of them.
I shall be pleased to see the beck cleaned out and running swiftly again with clear water - at the moment it is very sluggish. But it is not only me who will rejoice - the grey heron will find it much easier to find his food - and our resident kingfisher will enjoy the clear water too.
As for the fish - well, there are plenty of little bridges over the water. In our village almost every house has a bridge at its front gate and even here in the fields there are bridges for the cattle to cross - so plenty of places to hide - places which have been home to dippers through the summer months.
Heavy rain is forecast again for the next two days - so perhaps the beck has been cleaned out just in time to prevent the fields flooding. We shall see.