Newsletter – Winter 19/20

February 3, 2020

We are pleased to welcome you to our Winter 19/20 newsletter! We hope you enjoy reading about what we and our partners have been up to recently. If you have any suggestions for our Spring newsletter then contact:

The importance of the floodplain is often overlooked, but it is just as much a part of the river as the channel. After several years of dry summers and winters, the River Thame has topped its banks and reminded us this of its true extent, spilling out across the fields. Please enjoy the above slideshow of Martin Routledge’s photos of the river near Upper Winchendon.

Yellow Fish

This spring yellow fish will be popping up across Waddesdon and Quainton to raise awareness of urban sources of pollution and to spread the message ‘only rain down the drain’.

Road drains play a vital role in keeping our roads clear by draining away rainwater to nearby rivers and streams. However this direct connection means that pouring pollutants down them is like pouring them directly into a watercourse. All too often substances such as soap, oil, paint, cleaning products and litter make their way through road drains to streams and rivers where they can have a devastating impact. Sadly it only takes a little pollution to harm wildlife, for instance an oil leak from just one car is enough to pollute an area the size of two football pitches.

To prevent this very avoidable pollution the River Thame Conservation Trust and volunteers will be marking up road drains with yellow fish markers across the two villages and disseminating information leaflets.

The Trust is looking for helping hands to install the yellow fish and to hand out leaflets. If you’d be interested in volunteering please visit here for more information:

Yellow fish marking road drain

Watlington Environmental group installing the same yellow fish markers that will be used in the project.

Aylesbury Outfall Safari 2020

The safari is back! After a successful campaign last year we are running another Outfall Safari this spring to identify potential sources of pollution in Aylesbury’s streams.

An Outfall Safari is a volunteer survey using a smart phone app to map and record the location and impact of polluted surface water outfalls in urban streams and rivers.  These can then be  reported to the Environment Agency and Thames Water and prioritised for action to resolve the issue.

If you are interested in taking part please see here for information:

or contact Tim at (

Survey urban streams for polluting outfalls like this, and help to prevent pollution in Aylesbury’s streams.

Spawn Survey

It’s spawning time! Both frogs and toads are heading on mass to ponds to breed.  Have you spotted any yet?

Between Feb and May, Freshwater Habitats Trust are inviting you to survey your local ponds for frog and toad spawn to help collect important data on breeding locations across the country. Simply check out your garden pond, local community pond, or any pond you come across in your adventures in the countryside for spawn.

Want to find out more? Please visit:

Common Toad by Patrick Connolly

Watery Behaviours; Microplastics

Plastic pollution has quickly become a global concern. The media is full of images of gigantic floating ocean garbage patches, seabirds feeding plastic pieces to their young and dead whales washing up on beaches with stomachs full of plastic bags. However little attention has been turned to the impact plastic has inland on our rivers and streams.

It is estimated that 80% of plastic in our oceans has started its journey in inland waterways and as much as 60 billion pieces are discharged worldwide into oceans from rivers each day. Although the impact on freshwater wildlife is currently less well researched than in marine systems it is likely to be just as severe.

A large proportion of plastic pollution comes from synthetic clothes, more specifically the plastic microfibres that break off when synthetic textiles are washed. These tiny plastic fibres flow down the drain, ultimately ending up in local streams and rivers. This key household source means there is something we can all to reduce it. No excuses!

Please follow the these simple steps to reduce microplastics in your wash and better protect your local streams and wildlife:

  • Skip plastic – check the label and avoid buying synthetic textiles, such as polyester, acrylic and nylon.
  • Stay cool – Water in combination with heat weakens synthetic fibres causing them to break. Washing at 30° will help to prevent this.
  • Wash less – Air out your clothes and hand wash out stains to avoid unnecessary laundering.
  • Reduce the Time – The longer you wash the more fibres break. Washing machines have a short cycle. Use it.
  • Reduce the rotation speed – Spin cycles create a lot of friction, causing fibres to break. Synthetic textiles dry fast. Reduce the spin rpm (rotation per minute) or skip the spin cycle.
  • Use less and the best detergents – Washing powders contain mineral abrasives which increase friction and lead to more fibre breakages. Look for detergents with a neutral pH-value and without bleach.
  • Catch loose fibres – Use specialist washing bag and items to catch broken fibres in the wash such as the Guppy Friend Washing Bag ( or Cora Ball (

For more information about what you can do in the home to best protect your local freshwater habitats please visit our advice pages:

Watery Behaviours – Household Questionnaire

Thank you to everyone who filled in our questionnaire on household behaviours. The data is enabling us to get a better idea of people’s current day to day activities that can impact the freshwater environment. We can now take this forward to tailor our engagement materials.

Everyone who participated was entered into a raffle and the lucky winner can be announced. Congrats to Claire Lucas who is the winner of lunch for two at 94 Coffee Shop. Bon appetit!

Key Findings:

  • 97% said that the local environment was important.
  • 100% said it was important to avoid pollution in rivers and streams.
  • 63% said they are already actively trying to preserve water.
  • 24% said they flush things they shouldn’t down the loo.

Volunteering Opportunities

Related News

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