More news...

Feb 4, 2019
Category: General
Posted by: Kathryn

Flow monitoring on the upper and lower Chess reveals the good, the bad and the beautiful.

Jul 6, 2018
Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

With this hot weather our water use goes up; this leaves less water available for the Chess.

May 3, 2018
Category: Abstraction
Posted by: Kathryn

With an ever-growing demand for drinking water and increasingly extreme weather events, how do we get the water we need without causing even more harm to our rivers?

May 2, 2018
Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

Our riverfly monitors are back out in the centre of Chesham checking for life in the Chess now that flow has returned.

Latest News

Water Voles Decline Again

Jul 13, 2014

Category: Water Voles
Posted by: Kathryn

The results of a 2013 survey by River Chess Association volunteers shows a 32% decline in the water vole population from 2011. A small decline in the range of the water vole population was recorded around Blackwell Hall on the outskirts of Chesham. But there was also good news, because low levels of activity were recorded at Waterside, Chesham, for the first time since 2001, suggesting that water voles are dispersing and extending their range upstream.

Overall, water vole numbers are estimated at 236 individuals. The decline may be in part due to a natural fluctuation in the population, but the River Chess Association is concerned that mink may once again be predating voles on the river. Mink were responsible for a 97% decline in water voles between 2001 and 2003. Despite an on-going project since then to control mink on the Chess, signs of this non-native predator were found on the river during 2013.

The River Chess Association would like to urge all landowners who have mink rafts on their stretches to be vigilant in monitoring the rafts weekly to check for signs of mink. If you own a stretch of the Chess and would be willing to host and monitor a mink raft, please do get in touch with us via our "Contact Us" page.

To see the results of the survey, please download this 2013 Water Vole map (PDF, 3.3 MB)

You can compare it with the 2011 Water Vole Map here (PDF, 3.4 MB)

Full water vole surveys of the River Chess have been conducted every two years since 2001. For the first time in 2013, the survey was co-ordinated by the River Chess Association with support and training from the BBOWT Water Vole Recovery Project, the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project and the Herts & middlesex Wildlife Trust. We would like to thank all our amazing volunteers, the supporting organisations and the landowners who allowed us to survey.

Water voles are this country's fastest declining mammal. You can learn more about them here. BBOWT are currently appealing for funds to help them continue their vital work to conserve water voles. We wouldn't be able to do this survey without their support, so please do consider making a donation.