Water Quality on the Deben – some current issues

By Colin Nicholson

Introduction

At a recent River Deben Association (RDA) committee meeting, co-chair Colin Nicholson reported back from a recent visit to Anglian Water’s Wastewater Treatment Works at Martlesham Creek. The committee felt that this information was likely to be of interest to members and should be reported back. (Minutes of the meeting will also be available on the RDA website when they have been formally agreed.)  Hence this article via the RDA Journal, which does not claim to be a complete overview of the complex topic of water quality, merely a personal update on matters of current interest and actions taken to gain better information.

As organic matter trickles down over stones it is consumed by bacteria.

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The Cormorant

By Sally Westwood

The Cormorant has a distinctive flight outline. Their body is narrow and linear, with outstretched wings. A Cormorant glided past me along the course of the River Deben, descending down to the surface of the water, staring ahead. The bird’s feet, webbed between four toes landed on the water, on stretched out, short legs. Water splashing loudly on impact. The feet touched the water at the base, or heel of the legs, with the rest of the foot held upright, to act as a break to landing. Using their feet like water skis. The extended, raised wings also slowed down the landing, gradually closing as the bird completely crashed on the water. Continue reading

GBR Cadet Sailing Team Training at Shotley Sailing Club

By Neil Collingridge

The Cadet Sailors at the Paying It Forward event.
Adults in the photo are: Melanie More (Kestrel Liners – shipping sponsors), Julia Jones (Golden Duck – event sponsors), Lady Carla Stanley (recent Chair of GBR’s Olympic Sailing Selection Committee).
Photo credit: Kevin Ward.

The preparations for the Cadet World Team going to Australia in December have a particular interest for the River Deben as no less than seven of the thirteen boats competing are from Waldringfield Sailing Club. For the first of three specially organised training weekends they needed to test themselves in unfamiliar waters. Shotley Sailing Club offered hospitality. This is a report from a weekend that was rather special.

Thanks to Yachts and Yachting magazine for permission to republish.

All photos in this article from here onwards are thanks to Andy Stoddart.

The GBR Cadet Sailing Team gathered on the weekend of 15/16 October for the first of their three training weekends ahead of the 2022 World Championships in Australia over Christmas.

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Nancy Blackett and the River Deben

By Peter Willis

Nancy Blackett at Woodbridge.

If his log books are to be believed, Arthur Ransome only brought Nancy Blackett into the Deben twice during his four years’ ownership of her.

He kept her on the neighbouring River Orwell, having bought (and renamed) her in 1935 when he and his wife Evgenia moved to the East Coast, from the Lake District, to enjoy the area’s great potential for scenic inshore and offshore sailing. They rented a house, Broke Farm, in Levington, on the Orwell side of the peninsula between the two rivers, and it was to Pin Mill that he brought the south-coast-built 28ft cutter. When he fancied a sail, though, it was usually to the south, and the convenient and attractive Walton Backwaters that he inevitably turned. Continue reading

Deben Fish Survey August 2022

By Richard Verrill

It is well recognised that estuaries provide essential breeding grounds and nurseries for many fish species. They also provide corridors for migratory species. Estuaries provide a very dynamic environment with constant changes in tide, temperature and salinity. Intertidal areas provide particularly important refuge and feeding grounds for small fish.The variety of the shoreline in the Deben provides an abundance of different nursery environments with sandy beaches, shingle beaches, mudflats and salt marsh. Continue reading

A walk through the landscape of the Upper Deben Valley – Brandeston, Monewden and Cretingham

By Sue Ryder-Richardson

Download Walk

Map: OS Explorer 212 TM 251604. Start: Bridleway on Kettleburgh Road at east end of Brandeston village. Distance approx 6.5 miles.

The Upper Deben Valley in August 2022 is biscuit dry. The small rills, the source of this beautiful river above Debenham, are dried, fords and water splashes empty, yet further downstream in the heart of the farming countryside of Brandeston*, Cretingham, Monewden, as if by magic, the Deben has gathered some water, and flows gently through its green, tree lined valley.

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News from the Noughties, Part II

by Bertie Wheen

This is the second part of the second post in a series (in which I’ve been sharing a few of the things I’ve been finding while I’ve been going through our magazine archives). The first post was Once Upon a Time… (which covered the 1990s), and the first part of this post was News from the Noughties, Part I (which included roughly the first half of the 2000s). I’d recommend reading those before this (which, unsurprisingly, will feature the rest of the 2000s), but much more than reading any of these, I’d like to recommend going directly to the source, and having a leaf through some of the old editions (available on our magazine page).

This is what the RDA Newsletter cover looked like between 2004-2010. The font choice is a bit questionable, but I’m a fan of the drawing – though I’m not honestly sure which stretch of the Deben it is… looking upriver from the Rocks, or perhaps the Tips? Anyway, I do know that it was drawn by Ron Wragg, thanks to Nick Wright’s inaugural editorial in Spring 2004 (#28, the last issue mentioned in the previous part of this post):

“I would like to make a special mention of Ron Wragg who has donated the art-work which decorates the cover and punctuates this Newsletter. I hope that contributors will forgive me for occasionally replacing their excellent photographs (which do not reproduce well) with his sketches, some of which are based upon them. This represents a lot of work for Ron. I appreciate it very much.”
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News from the Noughties, Part I

by Bertie Wheen

If you haven’t read the first post in this series, may I direct you to Once Upon a Time…? What follows will make much more sense with its context, but the TL;DR is that I’ve been improving the accessibility of our Magazine page (which hosts digital versions of our biannual magazine, née newsletter) by indexing the old editions – or, more accurately, contentsing, but that somehow doesn’t have the same ring to it. Last time I had indexed the 1990s, and I’ve now done the same for the 2000s. I’d like to recommend that, better than reading these accompanying posts, you read the magazines/newsletters themselves. (I promise it’s a more interesting thing to do than you might imagine!)

To the uninitiated, The Deben might appear to be an unassuming little publication, but it has been consistently produced since 1990 (which was, though I’m sure you won’t want to hear it, over 30 years ago), and from the start it has been filled with articles that were not only interesting to contemporary readers, but – as I have been discovering by going through the back catalogue – still are today! Many are presciently relevant, and others are historically significant; there are contributions from then that read like they were written now, and there are others that could only have been written then, including reminiscences from those who had known the Deben the longest, and who shared some of their memories of it from deep time – from times that now few, if any, are old enough to remember. I’m incredibly glad that the latter are preserved in our archives, and I think the former speaks to the environmental consciousness that we have as a community, which we have had since long before the recent general awareness of such issues. I should add that there are still more articles that don’t necessarily fit into either of these categories, but that are worth a modern reader’s time. One of the joys of The Deben, or the RDA Newsletter as it was then, is the strange, quirky pieces that appear in it. Perhaps they might not be everyone’s style, but they don’t need to be. They are the variety and flavour that turned what could otherwise have been a dry document containing nothing but committee meeting minutes and end-of-year accounts (both of which were included in the Newsletter days) into something rather charming. There are some wonderful weirdos on this river, and it would be worse without them.
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The Curlew

by Sally Westwood

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

The tide was ebbing, almost at low tide, it was about an hour before sunset. The Deben was embellished with a clear, magical light that appears just before sunset and sunrise. Such a light produces enhanced clarity of detail in everything visible to the eye. Two Curlews1 landed on the mudflat, one each side of a gully of water draining into the shallow channel of the river.  Curlews are the largest waders in the UK, with a streaked and barred plumage, long legs and a distinctive down curved bill2, see image above. In flight, it shows a white section on the rump. The Whimbrel3 by comparison, is a similar bird to the Curlew, except it has a shorter, thicker bill, with a narrow stripe on the crown and is smaller than the Curlew, see image below. In flight, it shows a white section on the tail and back. I was alerted to the Curlew’s presence from their distinctive “Curlew, Curlew’’ calls made when they were flying. It is a call I regard as haunting in the cold, overcast days of winter. They also have a trembling, evocative bubbling call, that ends with what may be described as “dude” which carries some distance. One Curlew joined the other, on the other side of the gully. They immediately started squabbling, poking their long slender, down curved bills at each other, raising their wings slightly. Moments later, the set too ended when one returned to the other side of the gully and started searching for food, poking its bill, deep into the mud. The other Curlew started bathing and shaking out feathers, as in the image above. They may have been a pair, or an adult and youngster, however, research on Curlews has indicated that the latter relationship may be unlikely4. Since Curlews in England and Wales are in decline and such decline is driven by factors occurring during the annual breeding season.
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Plants of the Deben – a plea for help

by Julia Jones


Louisa and Ned, Visiting from Berlin

It was June 4th the Saturday of the Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend – a bright but extremely blowy day on the River.  My brother and I had hoped to take his seven year old daughter out to sea on Peter Duck but it would have been her first time and we didn’t want to put her off. So, while we waiting to go ashore and join the Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club celebrations we went for a walk to Bawdsey beach. We followed the path from the dinghy park, behind the bushes and through the dry, shrubby area where rabbits nibble and wild flowers spread. Continue reading