Last week one of our volunteers led us on a bit of a change of tack. The task was to carry out a riverfly survey on a point along the Churnet. These surveys are part of a national scheme to monitor invertibrates within river catchments.
So Phil, who is qualified to carry out the surveys, took us to site just north of leek where he showed us how to “kick sample” the riverbed – moving the stones and mud around slightly upstream of a small net so that material disturbed flows with the water and is caught. We then washed the sample to remove excess silt and then took it back to the workshop for a little lesson in ID.
There are 8 species that we looked for which all indicate water quality. In our sample we managed to find cased caddis fly larvae, caseless caddis, true mayfly, flat bodied mayfly and olive mayfly.
We’ll continue to conduct these surveys regularly so we our data can be added to others along the river catchment. We'll also be doing so at a few more sites in the upper areas of the catchment. This will help to monitor the health of the river by picking up longer term trends and potentially highlighting problems that the partnership can work to solve.