Alex Merrington volunteers with our environment team. Here he tells us about his first few weeks at the Trust.
I’ve only been volunteering with the Canal & River Trust for a couple of weeks and I’ve already found native crayfish in a canal, (been ambushed by horses in a field) and to top it off, seen seals at the Tees Barrage in Stockton-on-Tees!
What started as a rainy (and early..) morning at Leeds turned out to be a warm and sunny autumn day at the barrage where I was introduced to how the barrage works and how the great team there can control the water levels of the river to react with the tide.
This is done with four huge gates that can be moved independently under the beautiful new bridge to keep the tide at High Water downstream and prevent flooding in heavy rain storms. I also had the added bonus of seeing one of the gate chambers empty as it was undergoing maintenance, which was very impressive.
We were at the barrage to perform the last in a chain of surveys that have been carried out by volunteers throughout the year. The aim of the surveys was to investigate the visiting patterns of harbour and grey seals in the area and also to investigate their feeding patterns; basically whether they had a fish in their mouths when they popped up to say hello and investigate the barrage!
We saw a grey seal couple that were happily swimming in the wash made by the barrage, coming together for a hug occasionally before moving off in search of fish! I look forward to seeing the results of the survey at the end of the year.
There were cormorants enjoying the wash downstream as well as the seal couple that, along with the trees and general atmosphere of the green space by the barrage, made for a fantastic place to sit and enjoy the wildlife. I’d highly recommend visiting the Tees Barrage to enjoy watching the white water course or for having a more relaxing walk along the river on the other side; it’s a great place to visit.
The video above was filmed by Lee Butler, team leader at Tees Barrage
The Canal & River Trust has top team of committed experts and enthusiasts, who help to protect our waterway environment and improve it for both people and nature. Follow this blog to find out more about the hugely varied work they carry out.See more blogs from The environment team