What is the nation’s favourite river? A new public survey launched yesterday at www.ourrivers.org.uk is aiming to answer that very question.
And the results will be used in the second annual awards from the Our Rivers campaign, led by the World Wildlife Fund UK, RSPB, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association.
Among the awards will be ‘the best rivers for spotting wildlife’ and ‘the county whose rivers are most treasured by local people’.
Last year thousands of people took part in the first public awards carried out by the Our Rivers campaign to find the nation’s favourite river. The River Wye won the public poll, while the River Thames was highlighted as people’s least favourite waterway.
Jack Clarke, from the Our Rivers campaign, said: “Rivers are fantastic places to watch wildlife – from the lazy glide of a graceful swan and the blue flash of a diving kingfisher to the spectacle of leaping salmon and the summer emergence of dragonflies. Many of us have a river close to our homes where we love to walk, fish or simply sit and reflect and we’re hoping we can encourage this national army of river wildlife spotters to tell us what they have seen.
“We’re really looking forward to hearing which species people have seen in their area, but we are also asking what has changed and been lost. As well as encouraging people to enjoy their local river wildlife there is also serious, and worrying, message behind this.
TV chef, wildlife lover and keen angler Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is supporting the survey and has spoken about spotting wildlife on the River Axe, which runs close to his River Cottage headquarters in Dorset.
“I love the Axe, and particularly the Axe estuary,” he said. “It’s such a pretty little river, and full of bounty - the sea trout which I can never catch, the samphire which fortunately has nowhere to run and hide, and the wonderful wading birds, godwits, egrets and curlew, that strut and stab along the muddy flanks of the estuary.