Sunday, 19 August 2012

Come on in, the water is... terrifying!

Some wheat remains to the north of the village...

...but most fields to the east and south have now been harvested, some with stubble remaining, some already ploughed in and therefore depriving the local bird population of some valuable winter food resources. The Cuddesdon area had a barren feel to it today, with a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps calling and these being the only sign that autumn migration has begun. I predict a Wheatear in one of the ploughed fields in the next 2 weeks.

Elsewhere this tiny newly emerged Toad was on the move...

...and a Peacock always provides a splash of colour.

Then Salt pulled up in his tractor, with Fat Dog Nelly in the trailer. Salt lives across the road from me, but until today I didn't really know what he did. He asked me if I would like to see what was in the buckets in his trailer...

...before whipping out one of these and placing it on the tractor bonnet: A North American Red-clawed Crayfish! Salt is commercially licensed to catch these free living, but invasive, species from the River Thame. Five days a week he sets 5 traps each of which holds 5kg of crayfish. That's 25 kg of crayfish a day, 125 kg  a week and Salt is one of seven people who do the same all on a local stretch of the River Thame. I make that nearly a metric ton of crayfish a week being pulled from the local river! He sells them to a dealer in Burford, who ships them to Sweden. "This one will be on a plate in Sweden by Tuesday" he said. Some days he fills the entire back of his trailer with crayfish.

Our meeting was a fascinating insight into the local economy - some years Salt also sells crayfish to Le Manoir, just a few miles away. But it was also a horrifying testimony of the effect of non-native species in our local ecosystem. Imagine what life would be left in the river without the commercial removal of these beasts. A cooling swim in the local stream? You wouldn't stand a chance!


  1. Bleeding heck Tom you spend quite a bit of time telling us what a lifeless place you live in and just across the street from you lives a chap with the unlikely name of Salt pulling loads of crayfish out of the Thame - most unexpected but I understand the Salts are losing the battle as the crayfish proliferate at an alarming rate. Very nice little Fergie tractor.

  2. Always good to hear from you Camboy, and nobody was more surprised and horrified than me at the numbers of crayfish being pulled from the River Thame. In my experience Cuddesdon is generally birdless, but never lifeless. And perhaps some of that life contributes to the birdlessness?