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Wet Autumn

posted 7 Dec 2011, 05:06 by Gary Swainson   [ updated 30 Dec 2011, 06:21 ]
There is no doubt that it has been one of the wettest autumns recorded, and to be honest it is quite difficult to find anything good to say about a lawn so sodden that my grass has not been cut for a month, flying soggy birds in the rain or the constant smell of wet dog that seems to linger in my kitchen !
   However as is generally the case there is a positive side to any bad situation.
This time of year sees the start of the Salmon and sea trout migrations.These relentless swimmers, driven on by their desire to reach stony river beds high upstream where they will spawn, makes for one of the most spectacular Autumn events.
  What makes this beautiful ( and tasty ) fish so unusual, is its ability to transform its self from a fresh water fish whilst in its juvenile or Smolt stage, to a fully salt water fish whilst growing fat at sea. It will then, like its parents before it, make the long and exhausting journey back up our rivers to fulfill its breeding destiny. Without the inevitable Autumn rains this would simply not be possible and we would in time lose this stunning fish from our rivers.
    Streams and rivers are the life blood of this country, supporting scores of insects fish and birds such as Kingfishers, Dippers, Gray Wagtails and and countless others that rely on the rich pickings  these water courses supply in abundance. These same rivers are also now home to an ever growing number of Otters, a species nearly hunted to extinction in the last century, but which is now making a good come back thanks to its legal protection and the reduction in effluent being allowed to seep unnoticed into many of our water ways. There is nothing more thrilling than to catch a glimpse of these aquatic acrobats as they go quietly about their business, flipping rocks and bulldozing small fish into the shallows to catch. Otters are remarkably inquisitive mammals, it is not unusual for anglers standing waist deep in rivers fly fishing, to find themselves face to face with an Otter who has come to check out something new in its territory.  The last couple of harsh winters have taken their toll on our kingfisher population too, with a diet comprised almost entirely of small fish, frozen rivers make it virtually impossible for this vibrant little angler to find food and often forces birds to head for the coast in an effort to find food in the unfrozen brackish water where sea and river merge. And so, despite the long grey damp days we have been having recently, it is good to know at least our river inhabitants are enjoying the rain !