Caught by the River

Avon Diary

7th February 2011

An e mail received from Caught by the River reader Andy Hunt this week came with the suggestion we visit one of his (other) favourite websites, the self-explanatory, ‘Avon Diary’. Andy’s advice was promptly followed and good advice it was too.
The site is a total joy and I wish I’d been aware of it sooner, if only for the fact that there are six years of (almost) daily posts to catch up on. It’s author, John Levell, is based at the Somerley estate in Hampshire, and describes his role there as “encompassing forestry, roads, cottages and every other problem that appears to arise. In the context of my blog I am probably best referred to as the “River keeper”.

Everything that happens on John’s river gets logged, from the changes in the seasons – the first sighting of the birds the first showing of flowers – to the grim reality of predation. I spoke with him last week and he kindly gave us permission to publish one of his diary entries. I chose the one from January 30th where he says farewell to the waxwings.

Last Waxwing; probably!

The Rooks have arrived back in the oaks of the rookery, Goshawks are displaying and the ravens have chosen their new nest site, add the dafs and the snowdrops and there is hope on the horizon. We may yet have to face a further week or two of freezing weather but we are now on the downhill run into Spring. I have a couple of jobs to sort out at work and I’ve promised myself a week just chasing large chub and perch. If anything is tempting fate that is, the river will be out in the fields next week until the end of the coarse season, fingers crossed for a kindly spell of weather.

This clump has flowered at the end of December in years past making it four weeks late.

In the short term we face the close of the shoot season and the start of the salmon year with ice covering much of the still-water in the valley. The marsh at Hucklesbrook is ninety percent covered as are all the splashes, apart from the laterals that have overflowed on the water meadows. I will have to spill a little more water onto the meadows in the coming month before trying to get them dry for the early bite that NE have allowed us in one area in an attempt to get on top of the encroaching sedge. February is often a good month in the valley for both wildlife and angling if the weather will only smile on us.

A classic Avon scene as Mark Dykes plays a good chub.

I enjoyed a walk along the river this lunchtime and stopped off to watch Mark Dykes land a fine mint condition chub, long trotting on the pin. It was a classic Avon scene despite the bright conditions and the overnight cold the setting was pure “Avon”. Like myself Mark is a huge Avon fan travelling regularly from Brighton to fish the hallowed waters of the valley, such commitment is what makes the Avon very special, well done Mark you deserve a hatfull.

I hear rumblings that one of the lake anglers had a result this weekend catching eight carp during the day with the largest going 32+. If I can find the lucky captor and get the details I will put up an entry to inspire us lesser mortals to greater efforts.

I lied, these will be the last Waxwing pixs; probably!.

Words & pictures by John Levell, from his ‘Avon Diary’. Bookmark it now.
With thanks to Andy Hunt.