Time for a beer… Ooops, sorry!… an update…

Well, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since my last post… but we are waiting with bated breath to see if it will continue to flow.

The view from the bridge towards the weir…


The authorities in Indre-et-Loire have decided to have a major ‘clean up’ of the river system to try and help the native Brown Trout [Salmo trutta fario] Truite fario and other species [eg; the Eels [Anguilla anguilla] Anguille d’Europe increase in number.

So far here this has resulted in work to the river bed of the Aigronne… which we blogged about here and also here… but now it is the turn of the banks [or berges] along our stretch to be fettled. Yohann, the River Technician, wants our stretch to remain pretty much as is… too much having been removed either side of us. He has identified a couple of trees that will need to be dealt with, but these can be ‘tetard’ed [pollarded in English] and I have identified some others that I would like to have done… and these will be included.

What is worrying us, however,  is what will be happening with the millstream [bief]…. there has just been a meeting with Richard, our neighbour, concerning his vanne [sluice in English] and the impedance of fish migration that it supposedly causes.  If they cannot come up with a method of helping the trout, etc. pass it… they are talking about destroying the weir [barrage] at the end of our property. That will leave the millstream as a series of stinking pools in the summer… full of mozzies… not nice at all. Not for us, our health and our future. It would probably mean that we would have to infill with rocks to create a dry bed in the summer…

The wier at the end of our property

Just as worrying is the fact that this will also destroy the water gradient across the meadow… depriving the new willows and the existing vegetation of water in the summer months. The type of vegetation that we have in the water meadow has evolved to survive in damp places… things like the reedgrass, the Ragged Robin [Lychnis flos-cuculi] Fleur de Coucou and the Snake’s-head Fritillary [Fritillaria meleagris] Fritillaire pintade….

It will also destroy history. The bief has been in place since the 11th Century… supplying waterpower to two mills. The trout managed happily then… and aren’t impeded by Richard’s sluice as he has it open when they are migrating anyway… as would have been the old mill sluices. [This to avoid damage in winter when the water is flowing at its fastest and strongest.]

The fishermen, however, to make up for the loss of native Brown Trout, have been introducing trout … apparently these are ‘triploid’ females and therefore infertile. The native males now have a one in four chance of meeting a fertile female which…. surprise, surprise…. decreases their recovery still further. The fish farms create the infertile females by giving the eggs an electric shock… it is in their interest to create these, as people have to keep going back for more. And they will go back for more of these;  they increase in weight far more quickly than the fertile native females!

Brown trout

One of two Brown Trout caught in an electrical fishing survey near our house!!

We wait!!

But not with bated breath…

6 Responses to “Time for a beer… Ooops, sorry!… an update…”
  1. Susan Walter says:

    Thanks for the update (such as it is…) It’s really worrying. I hope Yohann stands up for you and has the power to push through an independent, apolitical decision.

    • drofmit4108 says:

      Thanks Susan… we sincerely hope he does!
      The cheapest option is a regime for Richard’s sluice… as it operates to a regime anyway, putting it in writing costs very little.

  2. Jim McNeill says:

    Oh, what a nightmare!
    Is there some way that a chute or steps could be constructed beside the weir?

    • drofmit4108 says:

      Hi J&S… as I have replied to Susan, the cheapest option would be the regime for Richard’s sluice… a fish ladder at the wier would be really very expensive, and would probably mean increasing the height of the wier across at least part of it to get a better flow at the ladder.
      Come over and have an apero or a Thé Anglais [we serve Taylors of Harrogate here… or assorted flavours from exotic places]… and we’ll show you the bief and the wier. We even have a Bill Oddie Kingfisher Trap in place…. which means we often get a longer look than just a blue and turquoise streak.

      • kathandroger says:

        Sorry I’m a bit slow on this blog Tim, but a couple of comments from an old trout fisherman.Brown trout migrating is news to me. All the lovely chalk streams in the south of England I have fished have had weirs, usually without fish ladders and the fish stocks have been OK. It will be a tragedy if such an old weir is removed. I’m not sure about the one in four comment about the mating males. I understand that the infertile females should have no impact on the resident breeding stock, as long as they don’t eat all the food! Is there any way we can oppose the destruction of your historic bief?

  3. drofmit4108 says:

    Hi Roger, the comment about the one in four chance is valid. It has been shown that the triploid females have a significant effect simply because they have the same behaviour as the fertile females… therefore causing the males to waste energy courting them and distract them.
    And Brown Trout do migrate, albeit over shorter distances than Sea Trout or Salmon. Even the trout streams of Southern England have been affected by the introduction of infertile females.
    But we’ve got very large carp in this stream… I’ll be publishing a list of what we have shortly because they have recently done a done an electric shock fish survey down the the bridge across the road at Favier… I just haven’t found the time to sort pictures and write it up.
    And I must get my act together to collect those poles!!

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