THREE cheers for the River Thames Guide, the website which provides a comprehensive information service about all things to do with the Thames, which is launching a project aimed at encouraging youngsters to get involved with bird-watching along the length of the river.
Run in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Thameswatch is aimed at kids between the ages of five and 10 and is designed to get them away from the television or the computer, out into the fresh air enjoying the sights and sounds of riverside wildlife.
Thameswatch will run throughout the month of June and the idea is that schools, cub and brownie packs and other groups for youngsters can sign up for an information pack containing details of birds and other wildlife they might find in their particular part of the Thames.
Jessica Worthington-Little the River Thames Guide’s PR specialist, explains: “The idea of the project is to get youngsters involved with the environment, to help them learn about wildlife and to understand the importance of the river.
“We’re delighted by the response we’ve had so far with 15 scout groups and a number of brownie packs and schools already signed up. We hope this will really fire the imaginations of teachers and group leaders.”
For the purposes of the project, the river is being split into three different areas – Countryside Thames, which covers the area from Oxford down to Putney, London Thames and Estuarial Thames covering the area from Tilbury down to Southend. Thameswatch will supply checklists featuring 10 birds you might be likely to see in each of these sections which the children will be asked to tick off as they spot each species. They will also be encouraged to take photos and return their checklists and pictures to the RSPB at the end of the month.
If you’d like to know more, visit www.riverthames.co.uk/thameswatch or call Jessica on 020 8989 2041
I think the news that the Environment Agency is planning to sell off the homes occupied by three of its local lock-keepers – at Penton Hook, Chertsey and Bell Weir – is absolutely appalling. Our hard-working and dedicated lock custodians deserve better than that. These guys are out in all weathers throughout the year providing help for boaters, ensuring that flood risks are minimised by maintaining water flows at the weirs and generally keeping a weather eye on the river and its wildlife. Surely the amount of money that will be trimmed from the annual EA budget pales into insignificance compared with the benefits of providing the keepers with suitable accommodation within walking distance of their places of work. I join hundreds of members of the river community in urging the Agency to have a re-think and move back from this stupid piece of bureacratic double-think.
NOW we’re in May, traffic on the river will be starting to build up towards its usual summer peak – but for those who don’t own their own craft, you might want to make a note that French Brothers launches are now running an hourly weekend pleasure trip service from Runnymede boathouse (close to the Magna Carta Tearooms) up towards Old Windsor and then back past Magna Carta Island. The 45-minute trip – first departure 11am – takes in some beautiful riverside scenery and is a great way to sample the delights of the river. From Saturday, May 24, the service is extended to seven days a week through until September.