Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category
An osprey was sighted flying over the oyster beds on 5th September 2013. Let’s hope the netters left enough fish behind for it to feed on!
The presence of Sea Lettuce in the estuary over the summer at Bantham is suggestive of high nutrient levels in the water (N & P)- a common phenomenon around our UK coasts (remember also the dire situation on the French coast this summer, where the public health and environmental problems caused by algae were very severe). Overgrowth with these marine algae can upset the balance of estaurine and riverine ecosystems by suffocating slower growing plant species and lowering oxygen levels in the water.
DEFRA is encouraging farmers to reduce agricultural run-off of fertilisers, etc. into waterways through, for example, the Catchment Sensitive Farming Initiative which includes the Avon as a full member this time, and the declaration of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) in which manure application to the land is controlled – the East bank of the estuary is now a NVZ.
In addition, we can all do our bit to lower the nutrient content of river water by restricting our use of detergents containing phosphates. Instead, substitute an alternative. And why not use your ‘grey’ washing water in your garden? You could water and nourish your plants at the same time!
Contributions from local knowledge
The so-called „Ancient Wisdoms and Anecdotes‟ listed below were collected by the late John Crawford during recent years from Aune Conservation Association (ACA) members and others familiar with the Avon. Some of these people and their forebears have lived in the South Hams for many years, others have visited on regular holidays – some since childhood days; yet others, have arrived more recently in this idyllic part of South Devon. However, these groups are united in being keen observers of their environment and the changes occurring in it over time.
This array of observations should not be lightly dismissed; no matter how subjective or judgemental some of the interpretations; they form an important part of local folklore. Although the accuracy of some of the distant memories cannot be verified and clear causal links cannot be established between past events and the current state of siltation of the estuary, the body of circumstantial evidence for accelerating change within the living memory of many people is very strong. It is a fact that all estuaries fill up over geological time but the siltation of the Avon estuary would seem to be a much more rapidly developing situation. It was the purpose of the ACAs Siltation Research Project to de-bunk rumours, establish some scientific facts and try to identify ways to slow down or prevent the loss of our precious waterway. These local observations are offered as a backdrop to the scientific studies.
The collection of „Ancient Wisdoms and Anecdotes‟ has been made deliberately anonymous but we are very grateful for the priceless contributions that so many people have made to the Siltation Research Project by this means.