Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Just like teenage tantrums!

Photo 01 - Archive photo, Dangerfield showing Mass Failure!
Just like teenage tantrums!

Yesterday was one of the worst May days that I can remember, constant rain with torrential outbursts, low cloud with a depressing mist blocking out the light and a strong east wind with significant gusts bringing the temperature down to single figures. We spent the morning in the boat house finishing the wooden parts of our new safety rail and we were struggling to see in the dark! Unbelievably it was eighteen degrees warmer in Moscow yesterday! The structure now only requires some cement work, sanding of the rails and the application of a suitable wood preservative. On the subject of preservatives I was unable to source the Creosote substitute which replaced the now restricted genuine Creosote. The only things on offer are the wax based products and I went for the Ronseal version which offers a five year lifespan – we shall see! In the afternoon I spent some time with a well kent walker who had noticed our bank work at Kirkstead and was keen to know more so here is our rationale for the works we have carried out.

The major contributing factor is the appearance of floods where the capacity of the stream bed is unable to cope with the flow of water and the energy contained therein. In this area with its huge collecting bowl floods can be very severe just ask any local to relay the events of late. It is of course a natural process that has always been with us but nowadays with conflicting interests such as farming and angling this constant erosion becomes a problem for farmers and angling bodies. In an unpopulated area where nothing much takes place the redirecting of rivers and continued severe erosion has little in the way of discernible consequences.

The photo of Dangerfield on the Megget area above shows the impact of high water flows where the area of the curve taking the full impact of the increased flow is eroded preferentially undercutting the bank causing the area to collapse into the stream invariably losing the farmer valuable grazing ground. Known as “Mass Failure” the near vertical banks are indicative of enormous water forces. This sediment material arising from such earth movements is also capable of filling in the voids in the gravel beds effectively suffocating young fry and other organisms, of course serous floods when fry first emerge is a complete disaster for recruitment to the population.

Often this material is deposited further downstream where the flow is lessened such as the inside of a curve leading to a build up creating solid land. This however is of no use to the farmer as it will take years to re-grass the area and more importantly is in an area which is of no use to the farmer. Sometimes this deposition of material will be sited mid stream as can be seen by the formation of islands at the foot of the Megget where it enters the loch. Incidentally the wooden “sculptures” directly across from the mouth of the Megget signify the deposition of material from Megget across the loch which in thousands of years will form a land strip similar to that which straddles the loch at the top of St Mary’s and houses the Tibbie Shiels Inn. Although none of us will see it, St Mary’s will eventually become two lochs.

It is a well known fact that lightly vegetated areas are much more susceptible to erosion than those that are held together by multiple root systems. It is this aspect of erosion management that has led us to natural methods for bank stabilisation. For the farmer widespread flooding also causes unseen damage where the soil pores are blocked leading to poor growth of vegetation in their fields so affected! Grazing stock also play a significant part in the erosion of stream banks this however is widely recognised and fencing of stream edges is now commonplace.

There are two types of control used for bank preservation being a bio engineering method and so called industrial preservation. Nowadays the bio engineering methods are the more popular not just for the aesthetics but for the fact they are more effective. Concrete structures will protect the immediate area behind them but serve only to move the erosive forces further downstream recreating the original problem. The concrete structures are of no benefit to the flora and fauna bank side providing no food or cover for fish inhabiting the stream.

Preservation structures such as we have used in the form of live willow rolls work in an altogether more eco friendly manner. They partly redirect the high forces away from the area being protected and at the same time adsorb much of the energy as the water is slowed as it passes through the bound rolls. In a short time roots on the bundles form weaving their way into the banks creating the optimal structure for resisting the huge erosive forces. We have also taken the further step of implanting willow whips directly into the banks seeking the quicker formation of the root system. Our rolls which contain thousands of small spaces provide refuge for all manner of animals and in particular our young fish, the slowed flow also allows rooting of other forms of vegetation increasing the bio diversity of the area. When the substantial growth comes from these bundles cover food and good habitat will ensue.
Photo 02 - Sensible ewes & lambs sheltering from the downpour yesterday.

The measures we have taken and further measures we are still to take will have a beneficial effect on the complete water corridor. With a little good fortune allowing minimal flooding until our structures are set we will have a bank resilient enough to withstand the high water flows that come throughout the course of a year. We will probably see no immediate improvement in our streams but through the fullness of time we expect to see some improvement. The three year cycle of electrofishing our burns will hopefully show some measurable improvement in the coming decade. It is difficult to argue against an improvement when we will have increased food, shelter and the general habitat quality of the water all essential factors in the recruitment of fry from our feeder streams. Whether it is an increase in the quality of our fry emerging from the stream or increased numbers leaving remains to be seen, suffice for us to know that we have done no harm and quite simply made things better! The farmers on the banks of the land on which we have carried out these improvements will also benefit hopefully seeing an end to the constant erosion. For our future years and for those who come later we have played our part in the conservation of St Mary’s loch and surrounding countryside!

Like teenage tantrums the effects of flooding cannot be stopped they can however be moderated given requisite time, knowledge and resources!

Work detail Sunday the 26th of this month.

I will be calling round a few members this week seeking volunteers to come and help with digging out trenches and constructing stone drains in our boat house parking area. This is fairly heavy work but we will ensure plenty of breaks and refreshments and no one will be asked to work if they feel unfit to do so. Lighter workdays will constitute the following workdays mainly cutting willow branches to form the bundles for our bank stabilisation works. If you are planning coming along on Sunday please drop me a text on 07980350031 before Tuesday so we can manage the numbers. I will start phoning round after this.

Star items from our recommended dealers!

This week Fishers in Penicuick are offering Greys G series breathable waders for an amazing £149.99 that’s £70.00 of the RRP! For newcomers to the sport how about a Leeda 2XL fly rod, reel combo spooled and ready to go with £10.00 off RRP at only £49.97. Turnbull in Gala have some great offers coming this week so nip down to Bank Street to see the goodies they have in stock. Great tackle from tackle dealers who are also accomplished anglers you just don’t get any better! Remember the 10% discount Fishers scheme for further discounts!

Photo 03 - Pretty much the best of the day!
Mariner engine update!

We were fortunate that our precision engineer Elliot Fraser came down yesterday and reviewed the task we had in mind for his estimation. As usual he did not disappoint and will happily bore the 16mm hole and fit the phosphor bronze bush to tightly restrain the eccentric movement of the driveshaft on our Mariner engine. Not only that he has taken the clattered gear wheel and said he would try and weld the teeth up with “Disimlar” a welding rod that can be used to weld stainless Steel on to mild and other Steel. The stainless constituted with Nickel and Chromium is far harder than mild Steel and if successful will greatly add to the resilience of the wheel.

Incidentally trying to make a vertical hole with a two face cutting drill in an angled hole will lead to a bigger hole at the same angle as the original. Words from the mouth of one who knows, so now you know! Just another one of the good guys we are proud to call our members! Peerless!


The male Blackbird can be heard in competition with their cousins the Song and Mistle Thrush providing fluting melodies from dawn to dusk. The needle like tweet of the Chiffchaff and twitter of the Robin means that in spite of the unseasonal weather spring is here! All manner of birds are nest building or feeding young and new life abounds, relax on a sunny afternoon with a glass of your favourite tipple preferably away from a road and listen to nature all around you, just magic!

Photo 04 - nothing much to see!
The wider world in my view!

Is there really a choice?

I pondered on this yesterday taking a little time to reflect in between trying to punch a line out in the blustery conditions we had to endure yesterday. Firstly we need to dispense with the Lib – Dem puppets; they are only a party of protest and will always be so as long as Puppet Clegg continues to backtrack on electoral promises, he is now a man without honour or credibility. Similarly UKIP who caused quite a circus in Edinburgh are turning out to be the milder acceptable face of the now defunct racist BNP and are currently promising to oust the Lib – Dem puppets as the number one protest party. This however will not happen as the Faragites have no policies at all on which to fight an election, look for them to do well in the European elections and then slowly disappear! A vote for the Lib – Dem puppets or the racist UKIP is a good vote wasted!

We are then left with the favourites of Lords, Landed gentry and aspiring Thatcherite Yuppies who care little for social equality seeking only increased wealth for themselves at any cost to others. Intent on increasing the rich poor divide they by means of favour seek only to reward their own kind! The working classes are greatly impoverished when these Victorians are in power. There has been a considerable change however as the above ethos is replaced in the number one spot by involuntary bungling! Yes screwing up all that they attempt in the manner of rank amateurs they continually show up the people of Britain on the world’s stage! The out of touch posh boys utterly clueless regarding what ails us bang on about irrelevancies like gay marriage which will probably be the nail that closes their coffin! When the economy is crashing downwards, accident and emergency units close to bursting, mild mannered non militant head teachers opting for a vote of no confidence in education secretary Michael Gove! The Con – Dem administration is crumbling around their ears!

Engulfed in infighting Lord Snooty’s authority diminishes every day in a carbon copy scenario of the Major era. Filled with nonsensical ideas such as the pie tax and the granny tax they stumble from one faux pas to another, barracked by one senior Tory after another, lambasted by the likes of Co party chairman Lord Feldman calling the party faithful “swivel eyed loons”does not bode well for the future of the eternally confused posh boys! Laughably the issue of gay marriage not part of the Con-Dem manifesto saw Lord Snooty giving the bill his imprimatur which this week will resurface to further damage the lightweight fool!

The opposition which in the days of Foot et al used to be genuinely left wing offering the working classes some kind of respectable lifestyle has now gone to be replaced by insipid right wing Tory clones offering the same under the banner of New Labour but perhaps with less blundering! The jewels in Labour’s crown of old, State ownership, co-operative working, and properly funded health and welfare systems are now mere transparencies in history! It’s more of the same; simply further reworking of a failed system of government, the model of capitalism! Yes vested interests will forbid the abolition of this flawed system as those who have, will not give up their wealth! Blinded to the plight of others by insatiable greed the status quo is the only option!

There is no longer a choice in the British political system it’s just shades of the ubiquitous grey with the only choice the degree of bungling you are prepared to accept, you can have capitalism with clowns and unmitigated bungling or capitalism with vague policies and leaders who qualify as non persona! It’s not really much of a choice and the outlook for the working classes is simply decreasing standards of living, careers as shopkeepers and at the end of our time scrimping and saving to eke out a threadbare living, it’s not a great vision for the future!

On Europe!

The days of the empire are gone; we don’t make anything anymore, as Napoleon rightly said we are a nation of shopkeepers! There are some niche industries left but other than that what could we export? We need the trade we have with the EU without it we are lost! The Tories would have us out and this would plunge us further into the mire! The bungling posh boys need to give themselves a good shake and wake up to the fact that we are not and never will be again a manufacturing exporting country! We need all the help we can get, it is imperative we stay in Europe

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