Let's hear it for Citizen Science

 Me kick sampling in Hardenhuish Brook

Regular readers know I'm a bit partial to taking part in citizen science initiatives such as the annual Garden Birdwatch and Butterfly counts, as well as one-offs such as Flying Ant Day. These are a great way of gathering huge datasets over a wide area that are simple to do and repeatable.

This year I've upped the ante by becoming a monthly Riverfly monitor for my local stream, Hardenhuish Brook. This scheme is designed to survey the key freshwater invertebrates which are more sensitive to pollution and also taps into my Masters degree. The wider the variety and number of these found each month gives an idea of the water's quality. In the photo you can see me assessing the stream for those invertebrates usually found in the more urban locations by kick sampling the stream bed for 3 minutes and then having a look at what I've caught. March's net had a bullhead fish as well as plenty of little wriggly things to identify!

It's been great to use the skills I acquired thirty years ago and to do something more practical after all the recent publicity and concerns over the health of our rivers.

Waterblitz testing

On Sunday after Park Yoga I took part in the national 'Waterblitz' weekend and tested the chemical water quality of a couple of locations in Chippenham. Here I'm assessing Hardenhuish Brook at my invertebrate sampling location for nitrate and phosphate levels by using a simple kit which takes just a few minutes to use - so different to the days when I used to do this in a lab! I've just looked at my results on the website and I'm pleased to see that my little corner of the world has good ecological status - yesterday morning at least! 

This matches the invertebrate results obtained so far, though I'm a little worried to see the silt that's appeared at the site over the past few days. I'll see later this month whether my kick sample results reflect this change.

Have you taken part in any citizen science projects? I'd love to hear about them in the Comments!


  1. iNaturalist is heading for the Great Southern Bioblitz

    1. Fab - we have bioblitz's here too :)


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