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Riff Raff Diary – February 2018

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

Riverbank tales from the local St Catherine’s lengthsman and weir keeper

by Robert Craig

The weather conditions in January meant that my time was divided between operating my weirs and dealing with fallen trees.

The high winds we experienced brought down two Alder trees – one at Stonebridge Wharf and the other just upstream of St Catherine’s Hill.

Having secured the tree at Stonebridge our floating excavator lifted the tree out of the river for me and the maintenance team then cut it up. With the tree at St Catherine’s it was more complicated as the trunk had fractured two thirds of the way through about eight feet up and was still standing with the top entangled in the tree in front.

The fallen alder under St Catherine’s Hill

For this, contractors were used as some climbing was involved. Up on the Railway Line Walk some smaller trees such as silver birches needed attention. The high winds had lifted the root plates causing them to lean. With the help of my fellow lengthsman Mandy we soon cleared these.

At Stonebridge Wharf I have been working on some fence repairs and have made a start on cleaning the staging on the moorings.

A shoveler duck

In the meadows surrounding St Catherine’s there are still good numbers of shoveler ducks to be seen. Also a dabbling duck, the male is particularly handsome with a green head, white breast and mainly black upperparts and orange brown underparts. The female is mainly brown and cream with bolder marking than a female mallard. As their name suggests the bill is broad and shovel like.

See you by the river.

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