Our monthly report on the activities along the River Wissey
An icy wind bites but there is now an expectation. Days grow longer. Hints of sun and warmth bring hope. The process is slow but Mother Nature is definitely stirring. Stubbornly she refuses to hurry. It is stark and bare but a closer look shows new growth is peeping. Hundreds of catkins hang expectantly whilst a multitude of tiny buds abound. The willow is always impatient and a cheerful patch of daffodils provide the only colour on the river bank. And so we have a seductive peep into the weeks ahead. Now we must await the invisible trigger that ignites the explosion whereupon the arrival of spring can be declared!
The river Wissey patiently runs its course but it is definitely sulking! Sadly it is troubled as the extremities of winter have left a deep mark. Its well earned seasonal rest never happened. Alas it was badly bruised by the record breaking cold. It is so very easy to overlook that beneath the surface life is precarious and greatly dependent on temperature. The severity has caused real upset to certain fish and for sure my friends the pike have suffered as only a few have been sighted ever since! Unlike ourselves they have no escape and even the deepest water provides little protection in such conditions. But where have they gone and indeed where could they go! Has the worst happened and have they been wiped out? Normal winter weather always seems cold indeed but for many decades the pike have carried on their business regardless. They are renowned as robust and hardy beings for they must remain active to feed to support their large weight. Now there is a fear that their very metabolism may have failed. Their fate is still speculation and only time will provide the answer.
Such thoughts prompt further questions so please do not be dismissive. We must question if fellow creatures have also suffered. The next few weeks will be important to watch and monitor the other fur and feather folk. It is easy to assume that hibernation is a safe state of being but before their deep sleep would they have had any instinctive warning of the abnormal weather and did they make extra preparation? Now is a time for a roll call to check everyone present and correct. With hope and good luck no doubt each will awake and show little concern but beware the ways of Mother Nature can bring change and survival is forever fragile.
A strange but pleasing sign has been the many half-eaten carp upon the river bank for the only culprits capable of catching and eating such large fish are the otters. Thus they have proved they are still in residence and likewise with good appetites. We can confidently tick them on our list!
The river fisherman's season has now reached its end and already the water and bankside enjoys an enforced break. Most disciples will not return until the month of June, and those with only short memories may never return as sport has been so dire, but during the weeks ahead the pages of the book will rapidly turn. Many changes will be afoot. A new world will be in the making. Tired will become fresh. Rough will become calm with hot lazy days. Dragon flies with perpetual motion and birds with endless song. Colours will shine and be vibrant with fresh smells to greet the morning dew. Happy memories quickly flood back and become dreams for the summer. The prospect is truely exciting!
By Ivor Hook