Clean water for wildlife

I am a bit of a numpty and so I have agreed to undertake various “Challenges” this month. My first challenge was to sign up to walk 10,000 steps every day in June to raise money for cancer research. I then decided that I should do some more swimming and signed up to swim half a marathon in seven weeks. This was still not enough so I decide to do the challenge that I am really enjoying which is to do something wild every day during June.

During the winter we attended a meeting of the British Dragonfly Society and heard a talk by a representative of the group This organisation are undertaking a project to map the nitrate and phosphate levels on freshwater bodies across the UK. These freshwater habitats include streams, ponds, lakes, canals and rivers. So we have been around the area in which we live and testing the water for nitrates and phosphates. These are the primary nutrient chemicals within freshwater habitats.

Results 2017 fresh water testing

We visited ten sites and took photos of each site. Despite being there just for the testing we found four spotted chaser dragonflies, a black-tailed skimmer as well as both blue tailed damselfly, common blue damselfly as well as speckled wood butterfly, female orange tip and small tortoiseshell. So a little sunshine and lots of insects were out. At Attenborough, we were treated to whitethroat, blackcap and Cettis Warbler in addition to watching a reed warbler for several minutes.

This is Long Eaton gravel pit. It is no longer linked to the river and other ponds. This is reflected in the low nutrient levels found in the water.

The next site today was Forbes Hole Long Eaton an old borrow pit from the 1830s used to obtain gravel for the railway adjacent to the site. This is a more mature site and where the fantastic dragonflies were all out in the sunshine.

We then headed for Attenborough Nature Reserve and took samples from the River and Conneries Pond. The river had high nutrient levels of both Nitrates and Phosphates.

It was very windy and the water was choppy again algae were present of the surface of the water and the nitrate and phosphate levels were high.

The path at Attenborough was mush higher than the river, this presented problems in scrambling down the bank to obtain the water sample.

Yesterday we visited Wollaton lake, which was also high in phosphates but lower in nitrates than the algae on the surface of the lake would indicate.

Wollaton lake is fed by a culvert from Martin’s Pond a much smaller pond. Both nitrate and phosphate levels were high.



The river Erewash passes sewage treatment works and consequently, the levels of nutrients would be supposed to be high. Indeed these were the highest levels we recorded. The Erewash Canal was similarly high in nitrate levels, but not phosphate levels.

The small plastic tubes containing the reagents start colourless and change colour as the reaction develops after a few minutes the colour is used to determine the concentration of nitrates and phosphates. The levels of nitrates were generally higher than the levels of phosphates. So this is my Go Wild for this weekendIMG_5112

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I am about to enter a new phase of my life. My career is potentially coming to an end, my children are grown up and I need to decide what to do with the rest of my life. I am married and live in a small house on the outskirts of Nottingham in the UK. I want to find out if I can live more sustainably and opt out of the 'rat race' at least for a while. I want to use these changes to my life as opportunities to do something different, to learn new skills and develop. I also want to be happy. I am convinced that owning more stuff is not going to make me happier and I want to find out how to be happier. My lifestyle at the moment is very desk orientated and this is not healthy so I want to be healthier.

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