River is full of life for new nature makeover

Martin Moore is pictured with one of the roach that was caught during the safe-electro fishing in the River Cherwell today (Tuesday). NNL-150825-120701001
Martin Moore is pictured with one of the roach that was caught during the safe-electro fishing in the River Cherwell today (Tuesday). NNL-150825-120701001

Roach, dace, perch, bream and even pike were caught and measured in the River Cherwell on Tuesday ahead of a wildlife makeover in Spiceball Park.

Nature conservationists Vaughan Lewis undertook the programme, which involved safe electro-fishing along a 75-yard stretch of the river through the park. Once the fish were caught they were carefully weighed and measured before being safely returned to the river.

The survey was also overseen by the Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) ahead of the makeover project in the autumn to help create a habitat for new animals to thrive in and for people to enjoy all year round.

Judith Hartley, who works for the trust, said: “It was a really positive morning and we have seen there is a lot of fish in the river that many people would not normally expect. We have also had reports of otters and kingfishers near the area as well which is great.

“The project will hope to put a fish ladder further down the river which will allow more fish to come into this area and potentially new species as well. We also plan to take away some of the trees as it is quite dark and shaded at the moment.”

The fish survey is being done to obtain baseline data before the makeover starts. Another count will take place in a year’s time to gauge the success of the project.

The first phase of the project will start in October and will clear away vegetation and trees overshadowing the river and create shallow river banks, to encourage more river plants to grow which will help to clean the water.

The BBOWT is overseeing the project in conjunction with Banbury Town Council and has secured a grant of £31,000 from the Environment Agency for the first phase.

Cllr Colin Clarke, chairman of the town council’s general services committee, said: “This is an important project and the survey will reveal a great deal about the condition of the river before the improvement work goes ahead.”

The electro-fishing project was carried out by Phil Court, Adam Townsend and Martin Moore. Mr Court added they were all pleased with the work and what fish they found.

He said:”Everything was really positive on the day and we were surprised at the amount of different types of fish we have had. We were even surprised at the bottom of the river which was actually a good quality clay.”

For more information visit www.bbowt.org.uk