Earth Watch Fresh Water Watch report by Dave Standing

The RBRA has participated in the Earth Watch Freshwater Watch project this year. The project uses citizen science to measure the Nitrate and Phosphate in any body of fresh water. People were asked to register for kit(s) and take a sample(s) of the water and then measure the amount of Nitrate and Phosphate present in parts per million (ppm). Results were uploaded to the Earth Watch website and are available to view at: https://eip.ceh.ac.uk/hydrology/freshwaterwatch/?thames . The results were:-
Walkern Ford- Nitrate 5-10ppm, Phosphate 0.05-0.1ppm
Aston Ford – Nitrate 5-10ppm, Phosphate 0.1-0.2ppm
Rivershill Watton- Nitrate 5-10ppm, Phosphate 0.1-0.2ppm
Stevenage Brook- Nitrate 2-5ppm, Phosphate 0.1-0.2ppm
Hertford- Nitrate 2-2ppm. Phosphate <0.02ppm
River Beane Catchment Partnership Site Visit report by Sarah Perry
The River Beane Catchment Partnership group got together on the banks of the Beane in mid-September, to share updates on activities happening across the valley. This was the first time in 18 months the group have been able to meet in-person, since the onset of covid. It was a great opportunity to reconnect and hear from the Environment Agency, Herts County Council (CMS), Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Affinity Water and others, what’s been taking place over that time. The group walked from Waterford Marsh to Hertford North (and back again!) and along the way heard about plans for river restoration activities at the marsh, discussed the latest news on addressing the breached horseshoe weir, learned about Affinity’s work with farms in the area and spotted some unique wildlife, like the Wasp Spider (photo) at Beane Marsh Nature Reserve. The next meeting will be held in spring 2022, all welcome, RBRA members will be notified of the date in advance.
Beane Marshes

Plans to begin restoration work at the new nature reserve are taking shape. Beane Marshes, near Hertford North Station, is one of few remaining areas of priority floodplain grassland in the valley. This is a very rare habitat – we have lost 95% across the UK over the past 50 years. The marsh was once home to a range of interesting plants and rare insects, but over recent years due to lack of grazing, the site has become less rich in wildlife. The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust are aiming to reverse this decline by bringing back conservation grazing using cattle in 2022. They are also undertaking a range of plant and animal surveys to monitor improvements. The first step for restoration will be to put up new fencing around the reserve soon.

American Mink
An American mink has potentially been spotted along the River Beane recently and efforts have been upped to monitor the numerous mink rafts around the catchment. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust were notified by a local resident September and are in the process of installing more monitoring rafts in the area it was reported to be. Mink are a non-native species of concern; they predate on water voles, the UKs fastest declining mammal, which are known to be present along the river Lea and other chalk tributaries in the area. Without monitoring and control in place, mink pose a real risk to water vole survival. The Trust host a volunteer survey programme, where rafts with clay mats are checked for footprints on a regular basis to detect where mink are being found in the catchment. If you’d like more info on helping with the surveys or hosting a raft, please contact Josh.Kalms@hmwt.org