Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bullheads and sticklebacks - watch out!

.....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.

19 comments:

Crafty Green Poet said...

I hope the heron and kingfisher appreciate the cleaned out beck.... Good to hear that you've got a lot of trout

Wild Somerset Child said...

It is magic to me that what you still have around you IS still there. This reads to me like my childhood, fishing for sticklebacks in the beck.

willow said...

I've never heard the term "beck" besides being at someone's "beck and call". So I had to look it up. Lo and behold, it's a small brook or creek. I love the things I learn in the blog world.

jinksy said...

Hope you manage to keep your powder dry! :)

Heather said...

What a treat to have a resident kingfisher. I once saw one many years ago, not long after we moved here, flying down our little beck between the two halves of the housing estate. I was so surprised that, in spite of being alone, I said out loud 'I've just seen a kingfisher'! Your heron won't go hungry this winter and hopefully you'll not have so much rain that it will cause flooding.

Penny said...

Heavens Weaver here in Oz we are not allowed to do anything to our streams or we would be fined, except of course get rid of the introduced willows, that actually tend to hold the banks together.
A funny old world we live in, full of regulations, some not terribly clever.
Would love some of that forcast rain.

ArtPropelled said...

Weaver, have you read Janet Marsh's Nature Diary? It's about the English countryside (Hampshire). Often when I'm reading your posts I think of this book.

Rinkly Rimes said...

I love to hear that great old word 'beck'!

Coastcard said...

I think our heavy rain is already here! The South Wales coast was very rough at the w/e - and looks like more wild weather is on the way.

Willow mentions 'beck and call'... I guess this 'beck' has something to do with beckoning? Any thoughts here, Weaver?

steven said...

weaver you are such a beautiful, observant, gentle writer! it's hard to describe just how refreshing it is to read about the stream. so much of farm life is a mystery to me and i'm actually glad because as you reveal the details it's like a magic revelation each time. thankyou for this. steven

ChrisJ said...

Oh you sound to be living in a beautiful place. Of course Wensleydale IS beautiful. I wish I could just fly over to Yorkshire whenever fancy took me. I miss the green countryside and all the birds.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Another lovely post Weaver.Have you read 'The worm forgives the plough'? By John Stewart Collis.If you haven't I think you would enjoy it.
Ps Don't forget to enter the 'Wrong Miracle' FREE poetry book draw by leaving a comment saying you wish to enter either on mine or Liz's blog. Pip pip!

Arija said...

There is always something and somethin else to attend to on aferm. Whether inyour wet county or our extreme dry where so often water has to be carted for the animals.
Love your reference to the stolen feasts.

Linda S. Socha said...

A lovely post...like a hot cup of tea after a long day!
Linda

Elisabeth said...

Weaver, where did you learn to write? Beyond your raw talent. You must read a lot, too.

Such wonderful details of a world so different from my own and so intriguing.

Golden West said...

Yes, Weaver, you have the most engaging writing style. It really draws the reader in and holds one there until the very last sentence. Your blog is definitely one of my favorite stops.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

I hope the fields don't flood. Looks like pretty miserable weather we're in for!

The Weaver of Grass said...

The word "beck" seems to be of interest to so many of you - it is the word used for any kind of stream here - up in the hills the streams are sometimes called ghylls. Where I was brought up, in Lincolnshire, they were all called dykes. There are so many different words. When I first started blogging I did a wordle using all the words I could find - must think of doing it again.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for all your comments - I have made a note of your book recommendations too.