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Rate of Recovery Assessment (RoR) 023 | by Saul Bassana (Bewildered, but not bothered)
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Rate of Recovery Assessment (RoR) 023

The late Winter/early Spring River Severn and Evesham Vale flood plain Rate of Recovery (RoR) assessment always falls to me because it’s the area I grew up in and came to know every square inch of as a boy. The repeated heavy flooding (now occurring throughout the year) makes the area treacherous walking for anyone who is unable to read the signs. In fact, it’s very often a question of whether or not a particular area “feels” right that determines whether or not I carry on walking there.


I’ve also been a great believer when it comes to trusting in the instincts of my dogs over the years and if they’ve shown the merest hint of reluctance about going into an area, then we’ve always found another route. My last dog, Leah, was brilliant at this and Tess, I’m delighted to say, is already showing great promise.


The focus today (25th February) was to take advantage of last week’s sudden fall in the water levels and get to a few places generally inaccessible for most of this Winter.


There was a great deal to observe and make note of (digital photography comes into its own at such times), particularly with regard to the growth and spread (or lack of it) of various Lichens, Mosses, and Fungi, plus noting the general status of as many Galls as I could find. I made note too of all the species of insect I saw and, of course, any birds. Tracks and other signs are nearly always significant in one way or another, while photographing as many types of plants already showing signs of early recovery is of primary concern. I also needed to bottle a few mud and water samples, as well as bag and tag a fair selection of other bits and pieces for the lab boys and girls.


Basically, it’s a tough and potentially very hazardous assignment, but even then, I’m only left with a basic snapshot of what’s actually happening out there and there’s a great deal of analysis still to be done by others much cleverer than me. I’ll repeat the process perhaps another nine or ten times (floods permitting) throughout the Spring and then at least we get a whole albumful of snapshots that can be compared with other, similar albums compiled over the years.


Tess meanwhile, was her usual brilliant self. Up to her armpits in mud and filthy stagnant water most of the time, but she never complained, except when I paused too long to examine something. That’s the big advantage with Labradors...the wetter and muddier it is, the more they seem to love it. The cold can be a factor though, but then again, their double-layered coat and general resistance to discomfort and even pain itself is nothing short of astounding!


Anyway, job done today, but same again after I return from Cornwall in a couple of weeks time.


Please note....These photographs are not meant to be artistic in any way. They are purely functional for the purposes of research and simply need to be as clear as possible, given the circumstances and the time constraints involved. They also represent only a tenth of the total number of images that I finally selected for inclusion on a disc that I shall take, together with the various samples, to the admin staff based in Stratford tomorrow.


I spent more than eight hours gathering the data in the field with Tess, but it took me another seven at home to sort it all out...It's now 0503hrs and Tess and I will be off out again by 0830hrs!

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Taken on February 13, 2011