Jun 02 2021

River Monitoring in the Faughan Valley

River Monitoring in the Faughan Valley – by Avril McAllister     



One of the highlights for me during this last year of restrictions on our lives, has been the enjoyment of being a citizen scientist! That’s a grand title for splashing about in a stream in wellies, with a net and a bucket to see what invertebrates and other life we can find there.



Image by Pam Hardeman 


It is a bit like going back to childhood but this time there are so many benefits of our contributions in monitoring the quality of this little stream trickling down to the River Faughan.


After a training session with Loughs Agency in the main river we were told the significance of the quality of the water in various parts of the river for the salmon and other life there. With major road works ongoing just above our stream, it seems even more important to ensure the habitat stays clean for the diverse range of species who call it home. So, we installed a series leaky dams to help slow the flow of the stream. This allows the silt coming from the road to settle on the stream bed rather than flowing down into the River Faughan and now we monitor it once a month to track any changes.


The excitement when I found my first caddisfly case and then the little larva sticking its head out ,made my day! The intricacy of the work to make this case , silk woven through the detritus of the stream bed to make a safe tube for this small creature to move about and feed – mind blowing doesn’t come into it!


Image by Avril McAllister



Caddisflies are useful as bio-indicators as they are sensitive to pollution as are flat bodied mayflies and stoneflies, so we are delighted to find them. Leeches are less sensitive and can survive in poor water, nevertheless there is something fascinated watching one squirm on your spoon tripling in length trying to smell blood! 


Image by Pam Hardeman



Tadpoles were abundant during our last session in two pond areas. Noting the seasonal changes in our findings will be interesting as time passes.



Image by Avril McAllister



There is great enjoyment and satisfaction in this for us volunteers, we hope we are making a contribution by monitoring the quality of the water, but I think we get more out of this than we give. Who wouldn’t want to spend some time outdoors, in a beautiful woodland , wildflowers now appearing again, by a trickling stream, birdsong and butterflies around us – bliss!


Header Image by Pam Hardeman

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