Dipping delight at the 2021 Rodden Meadow picnic

We were very happy to welcome lots of people to the Friends of the River Frome stand at the Rodden Meadow picnic this year. The rain held off (just!), the musicians played, and kids and adults alike got up close and personal with the river Frome and its inhabitants.

This year our stand featured hand-crafted bird boxes, a stuffed otter, lots of brilliant wildlife photos and of course trays of critters fresh from the water.

What’s in the water?

The brilliant Jess, an aquatic ecologist from the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, was on hand with nets, trays, guides and expertise to help us discover what lies beneath the surface of the Frome.

River enthusiasts of all ages wriggled into their waders to go river dipping – where you take a quick dip in the river to see what creatures you can find. We did kick tests – you hold your net just behind your foot, kick the river bed and any wildlife should shoot into the net to be examined – to see what critters were lurking under the surface.

Jess from Bristol Avon Rivers Trust demonstrates how to do a kick test.

River dipping and kick tests help us judge the health of the river. What we want to see is a good amount of riverflies – these flies are vital for healthy ecosystems and if their populations dip then it could indicate pollution or other environmental problems.

Learn more about riverflies

Lots found its way into the nets including little shrimp, fish and different riverflies, including mayfly larvae (a great sign of a healthy river). But sadly there were also lots of signal crayfish, an invasive species which damage river banks and eat native species. Good food for otters (and us!) but not so good for the river.

Getting hands on with a signal crayfish

Thank you!

Thanks to the Frome Festival organisers for putting on a great day and to Jess from BART for helping us all get to know the river (and to Banger the dog for his diligent retrieval of stones and sticks). And a very big thanks to everyone who came along, jumped into (sometimes damp) waders and chatted about the river. It’s only together that we can improve and protect the river Frome and your support makes all the difference.

Remember if you want to support events like this and other citizen science projects you can become an official friend of the river Frome for just £15 a year.