30 Days Wild - Day Twenty-four - River dipping

Image by Ruth Hawksley

Looking for the little creatures in the water of Cambridgeshire...

There’s nothing so satisfying as splashing in a river, but have you ever taken a closer look to see what lives there? Although in Cambridgeshire there is a good chance you’ll find otter, water vole, kingfisher and fish such as bullhead and minnows even in a small stream, today we were looking for invertebrates. Because they vary in their habitat and water quality needs, invertebrates can tell you a lot about how healthy your river is.

Sometimes the smallest creatures can be the most fascinating. We watched flatworms, with their almost cat-like heads, glide over the bottom of our tray – these amazing creatures can regrow lost body parts, including their heads. We tried to count the miniscule eyes of tiny leeches, to see which family they belonged to, while they looped and wriggled and refused to stay still. We identified families of caddis larvae by the shapes of their cases and of the creatures venturing their heads outside, and marvelled at the variety of materials and designs. And we tried to catch the speedy mayfly larvae and the graceful (but also speedy) lamprey amocytes.

Freshwater invertebrates can be easily identified as broad groups with a simple guide (e.g. the FSC Freshwater Name Trail), but getting to family or species level can be more involved and tricky.... Or you can just watch them and enjoy. It's a great way to get a glimpse into a hidden underwater world. You might need a magnifying glass, but prepared to be amazed!


Day 24 icon for 30 Days Wild


Ways to go wild...

Go river dipping! Similar to pond dipping, but in a freshwater stream or river. Be careful, of course, but there's so much to look at once you take the time. Make your own pond dipping net from a pair of old tights and take a look at how easy pond dipping is.. then head for a small stream near you!

Events during June for 30 Days Wild

We've got loads going on to help you go wild in our three counties. Visit our calendar for a full list of events.