Friday, October 16, 2009

The Sandford Brook

Seagulls follow the plough

We have walked beside this brook several times, its incredibly neglected and yet has that aura of a natural ecosystem getting on with its survival, unworried by human intervention. The brook flows through farmland, ploughed fields on either side, but the farmer is gentle with his use of the plough, and there seems to be bulwarks of unploughed grassland protecting the brook, as it finds its way through a choked waterway.
It curves in a sinuous fashion, a dark brown ribbon threading its way through watercress and tumbled branches, sometimes lost in vegetation, but bubble rising to the surface will indicate its flow. This is not a chalk stream, that flows crystal clear, yet stare into its shallow pools long enough and you will see clear water that the fish enjoy.
The old fallen willow sprawled across the banks, has flood debris caught up in its branches, showing that the brook must rise about five feet when in full flood. This part of Essex has a beautiful landscape of richly furrowed fields set amid rolling woodlands, a farmed landscape that is at home with its underlying fragments of wilderness that escape to the far corners of fields; trees die gracefully in old age, the silver leafed willow is predominate around the rivers and brooks, its fissured trunk often covered in lichen to reflect the clean air. The heavy weeds of nettle, cow parsley and field weeds are very much in evidence.
The fish, though being no expert, are probably graylings (Thymallus thymallus), because apparently they smell like thyme when taken out of the water.

The fish gently swimming against the current as they enjoy a patch of sun


disappearing into the distance


Old willows


looking up into the willow on a perfect warm October day



the fallen willow

natural debris

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