Blackwater Valley Countryside

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River Blackwater

Tributaries

Cove BrookThe river has a number of tributaries each with its own character. The main one is Cove Brook, which drains off the hills west of Aldershot and runs north through Cove and Farnborough to join the river at Hawley Meadows. Cove Brook contains a wide diversity of habitats and open spaces supporting a multitude of species, it supports extensive marginal vegetation beds in its lower reach.

Streams draining into the river from the surrounding heathlands can be acid and fairly poor in plants, but a few or these support wild Brown Trout.

The River Whitewater is a major tributary and joins up with the Blackwater near Swallowfield. With chalk stream headwater and little pollution, the Whitewater is rich in wildlife, but outside the scope of this web site.

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Vegetation

ReedmaceThe upper stretches of the Blackwater are little more than a shallow ditch. but even here it supports much wildlife. Where dredging for flood control has left shallow margins a luxuriant marginal vegetation develops dominated by:

  • Branched Burr-reed
  • Reedmace
  • Fools Watercress

In deeper sections:

  • Broad-leaved Pondweed and Fennel Pondweed are abundant
  • Arrowhead and Unbranched Burr-reed are frequent
  • Large submerged clumps of Starwort are easily seen.

In quieter downstream sections, away from the main stream, Fringed Water-lily has become established.

Loddon Pondweed once occurred in the river and has been reintroduced near the confluence with the River Whitewater.

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Fish

The river supports a healthy fish population:

  • Roach and Chub are numerous, even in the upstream sections
  • Perch, Pike and Stone Loach also occur
  • Bream and Barbel are found further downstream. In spring many of these larger fish move upstream to spawn

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Insects

Insect life is plentiful the most obvious are the vast number of Banded Demoiselles, but other Odonata are often seen including:

  • Blue-tailed Damselfly
  • Large Red Damselfly
  • Emperor Dragonfly

The nationally scarce White-legged Damselfly is found in the lower reaches and the very rare Club-tailed Dragonfly is occasionally found.

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Wildfowl

Many wildfowl breed along the river.

  • In spring Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and Swans will be seen with young
  • Less often seen are the Kingfishers, about six pairs regularly breed along the more secluded sections of riverbank

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Mammals

After almost 50 years Otters have returned to the river. Previously last seen on the river in 1957, fresh otter spraint was discovered around Frimley in February 2005, following the discovery of a dead otter in the same area the previous September. This indicates that the water quality of the river has improved significantly in recent years.

Unfortunately American Mink have colonised the river. These have had a major impact on Water Voles that are a favoured prey. In 1990 Water Voles were still common on the whole river length, they have survive but are now restricted to a few small and isolated groups.