As well as looking back at our Top 10 highlights for 2021, Unlocking the Severn are also looking forward to the events to come in 2022. We’ve compiled a list of 10 things to get excited about.
1. 158 miles of river will be unlocked for migratory fish!
Looking towards Bevere fish pass. Photography by Skynique.
We are very pleased to announce that, in time for the spring migration, all our fish passes will be complete! This means that migratory fish will be able to reach their historic spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the River Severn for the first time in nearly 180 years.
After a successful push to get the construction for Holt Fish Pass completed this year, we expect to be able to open the fish pass in early 2022. The tasks remaining for January include testing Holt Fish Pass, removing the temporary dam, and landscaping the surrounding area.
Our three other fish passes have already been completed; Bevere in 2020, Diglis and Lincomb in 2021. We have also modified two structures on the River Teme to allow for fish passage on this River Severn tributary. We are looking forward to unlocking the river for twaite shad and other endangered fish in 2022!
Holt Fish Pass nearing the end of construction, Nov 2021. Photography by Skynique.
2. 2022 will be our biggest ever shad counting year
With the River Severn unlocked in time for the shad run in May 2022, it will be more important than ever to monitor the shad migration. We will be acoustically tagging shad again to watch their progress upstream to find a suitable spawning habitat. We will also be making good use of our new underwater viewing gallery in Worcester, where scientific monitoring cameras will capture footage of the different fish species using Diglis Fish Pass.
We are looking forward to working with lots of volunteers and citizen scientists in the spring. Our volunteers will be vital for helping us count the shad population and monitoring their activity in the Severn. More information will be released in the new year about how you can get involved in River Severn conservation in 2022. To register your interest in our established volunteering opportunities, head to the Get Involved tab in the main menu of our website.
3. First full public tour programme at Diglis
After a successful pilot tour programme in autumn 2021, Unlocking the Severn is offering a full public tour programme beginning in spring 2022! You will get the opportunity to explore Diglis Lock Island, learning about the plight of the endangered twaite shad as well as the history of the Victorian lock-gate workshop. The tour will feature a visit to Diglis Fish Pass, the biggest deep vertical slot fish pass in England and Wales, and you will also be able to explore our unique underwater viewing gallery which gives a new insight into life in the River Severn!
Whilst we cannot guarantee that every tour will see fish through our underwater viewing window (they are wild animals after all!), spring and summer is the best time to see migratory fish swimming along the River Severn, so we are hoping for some great sightings of different species using the fish pass.
We are also currently recruiting enthusiastic volunteers to be Diglis Island Guides. For more info, click HERE.
Photography by Barbara Evripidou and Worcester University.
4. Our documentary film will be released
In February we will be releasing our long anticipated project documentary. We’ve been teasing it for a while and are really looking forward to sharing the film we have worked on with professional filmmaker Nina Constable. The mini documentary will provide an overview of our project, explaining how Unlocking the Severn is helping restore the upper reaches of the Severn for endangered migratory fish, and features TV broadcaster Monty Halls.
Watch the trailer below:
5. We have an exciting programme of events planned for May’s ‘Shad Run’!
May is the month when the majority of the twaite shad make their migration from the sea up the River Severn to spawn. This is always a busy month in the Unlocking the Severn calendar as we celebrate the return of the shad, but even more so this year as these fish will be able to travel the furthest upstream they’ve been since the 1840s!
At the moment our programme of events is being kept under wraps, however the team is eager to get as many people involved with the project throughout May as we can! We will have ample opportunities for people to join in with volunteering and citizen science. Our annual shad counting is especially vital for our project as we monitor the shad populations at Upper Lode Weir in Tewkesbury. We are also looking forward to organising some riverside events, and offering lots of ways for people to get involved online too. World Fish Migration Day falls on Saturday 21st May, so you bet we’ll be making a big splash to celebrate this global event!
More information to come in the new year.
6. Our May ‘symposium’ will welcome leaders in scientific research and river conservation from around the world
Alongside our jam-packed activity plan in May, Unlocking the Severn will also be hosting a scientific conference! Technical and scientific experts in river conservation will be invited to join us to celebrate the success of Unlocking the Severn and other river conservation projects around the world. Academics studying the shad will also be in attendance. Scientific monitoring is a big part of Unlocking the Severn, so we will be pleased to share the data gained from our project with the rest of the scientific community.
Monitoring camera from Diglis Viewing Gallery. Photography by Barbara Evripidou.
7. School visits to Diglis
Our school pilot visits in autumn 2021 proved to be a great way of giving local school children and students a unique perspective on the River Severn. Visits to Diglis Island, fish pass and underwater viewing gallery were an exciting way for schools to gain hands-on and practical learning experience to assist with classroom studies.
We are looking forward to welcoming school groups back to Diglis in the spring with a much greater chance of seeing fish through the viewing window!
8. Touring exhibition comes to the Hive in Worcester
We’re bringing back the Travelling Exhibition! Yes, after visits to Worcester, Ironbridge and Shrewsbury, the exhibition is returning to The Hive in Worcester in time for the spring fish migration. The touring exhibition will be at The Hive from 8th April until early June 2022.
Travelling Exhibition. Photography by Hannah Pasquet.
9. More unique and memorable river experiences
Since the start of our project, we have joined forces with lots of people to offer unique river-themed activities. These have included our My Severn mindful photography workshops, the foraging workshops with Wild Food UK, and our mindfulness river rambles. We will be offering plenty more memorable river experiences like these in 2022.
We have also had some lovely feedback from our 2021 Shad Run volunteers about how the project provided some much-needed positivity during the pandemic, or just a nice excuse to spend a few hours outdoors with the family. We believe there is something quite powerful about spending time with nature and look forward to hearing your stories and memories from 2022’s shad run!
10. Lots of fish making their way up the River Severn for their spring migration!
Well we’ve alluded to this further up, but the excitement of seeing lots of migratory fish in the spring deserves its own special mention! So far the project has seen 23 different species use the fish pass at Diglis, so we will be keeping an eager eye on our monitoring camera footage to see if we can increase this total. Spring is the time of year when many anadromous fish – those that migrate into rivers from the sea – return to the River Severn to spawn, and there is generally a lot more activity in the river as water temperatures increase.
This will be the first year our project has had the underwater viewing window installed for the whole of the spring migration, so we are waiting with anticipation to see which fish come through Diglis Fish Pass first, and in what numbers.
Hoping to see lots more sights like this: