Do you live on the Winnicut River, or one of its brooks or streams? Would you like to learn how to have a "better backyard," or be a steward for wildlife? Do you enjoy birding, kayaking, or trail walking? Have you got Invasive Plant Problems? Would you like to learn more about the Winnicut River and its wildlife diversity, from its treefrogs and trout lilies, to its black bears and white cedars? If you can answer 'yes' to any of the above, we need YOU. The WRWC is working hard to develop a Better Backyard campaign which promises to be a rewarding program for land/homeowners interested in protecting the integrity of the Winnicut River, its streams and brooks, and ultimately Great Bay, and the wildlife that lives and breeds here. E-mail us today to learn more at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Remains of a former grist mill, Stratham, NH

During our last biological sampling day we came across these old grist mill wheels at the Winnicut Rd. bridge site in Stratham.  An old photo of the former mill was found online, as was a cool graphic on how a grist mill operated.  Interesting stuff!  Make a mental note of the various parts and pieces you see in the photos, then see below for details.

The former Winnicut Mill in Stratham, NH, in ~1937/8...

This mill functioned in the 1930's. In this picture the river is flowing to the left (to the north, that is), which means the perspective is from the northwest, looking southeast. Imagine the 4-way intersection of Union Rd. and Winnicutt Rd. in Stratham behind you if you were the photographer. The present day Winnicut River Farm  would be off the photo's right, and the Golf Club of New England off the left.

To see how grist mills operated, click here for a unique graphic that was created as part of a collaborative project between a 6th grade class in Amherst, MA, and a computer technology group from UMass Amherst.  Cool stuff!

Interested in historic mill use on the Winnicut River? From the historical Weeks Brick House and Gardens websiteThe first dam, millpond, and sawmill on the Winnicut River were constructed by Philip Lewis & Isaac Cole about 1660, near what is now the intersection of the river and Rte. 33. Between 1670 and 1790, seven sawmills and gristmills were built on the upper Winnicut River. In the early 18th century, additional mills were constructed further up the Winnicut, about one mile south of the river's Rte. 33 intersection.

Third and final VBAP site

Yet another great day for sampling for aquatic insects in the Winnicut River was had on Wednesday, September 14th.  Exeter volunteer David Loch assisted WRWC project director Jean Eno (perhaps the other way around!), and Andy Gould from the Coastal Program also helped.

Biotic scores will be posted as soon as the data sheets are completed.  These scores are indicative of the kinds of insects found during sampling, with values assigned to certain insects having various tolerances to polluted water conditions.  We found some insects that are somewhat intolerant of polluted water, which is a good thing, but while a positive consideration at first glance, it would have been more reassuring if we had found insects that are outright intolerant of unhealthy water.

Exeter volunteer David Loch collects the day's bucket of water for holding the 5 samples that will be collected via kicknet.  He is just downstream of the bridge on Winnicut Rd. in Stratham, NH.

This little branch of the Winnicut main stem has just the right depth and riffling for our purposes!

The bridge is hard to see here, but it runs right to left near the top of the photo.  So, looking upstream. 

Facing upstream.  Winnicut Rd. bridge in Stratham.  Notice the old timbers from the former grist mill that once stood at this location.

"Scrubbing" for bugs!  The flow of the water pushes insects and debris scrubbed off the rocks straight into the net.  After 30+ seconds of scrubbing by hand, one volunteer will then use their feet for kicking up gravel, which also helps send insects into the net. 

The flow from the left (immediately to David's left) and the flow from the right (over by where the bucket sits) are the result of a secondary culvert next to the bridge which splits the main stem for a brief time.
Once under the bridge and through the culvert, the river returns to one stem.  Here, the camera is facing downstream from the Winnicut Rd. bridge in Stratham, NH  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Armed and Dangerous!

Look out, bugs, no rock will be left unturned!

Okay, that's not true.

Sampling for biological indicators of water quality, i.e. aquatic "bugs," commenced on Friday, September 9, 2011.  Great day!  From left: Kevin Lucey, Restoration Coordinator, Coastal Program, NHDES; Jean Eno, Winnicut Project Director, New Hampshire Rivers Council; Sally Soule, Supervisor, Coastal Watershed Assistance Section, NHDES; and, Andrew Gould, biologist, Coastal Program, NHDES

Biological monitoring begins!

With September here and only two water quality sampling days to go, the time is right for sampling aquatic insects in various streams and sections of the Winnicut River.  So far, we have identified four areas where there's potential for sampling.  This site, which is part of some conserved land in Stratham, certainly makes this kind of work all the more worth it!
Standing on a Volkswagon-size boulder, looking south (upstream).  This ~200' section will be perfect for "scrubbing for bugs" (lifting rocks and looking underneath!) as it has many of the conditions that are suitable for them: shallow, flowing current, and lots of rocks, gravel and sand for a riverbed.  "Riffles" are what we look for--water splashing over rocks.

Exeter volunteer David Loch, who has a background in biology and macroinvertebrate sampling (macroinvertebrates are large aquatic organisms), assesses the center of the river's current.

Monday, September 5, 2011

WRWC at EPA OSV Bold "Open Boat" day

While hot and humid on Sunday, many people visited the OSV Bold.  Guests to the WRWC table received fun stickers, Iams dog bones, and doggie waste baggies for pledging to pick up after their pet!
Lots of new hands were added to the 'Just One Hand' board, with more than 40 new pledges collected by day's end.

We were welcomed aboard in the truest of gracious hosting.  Chef Amanda knocked out a luncheon buffet to suit all dietary requirements, and her dessert table--complete with tartlets and cheesecakes and cupcakes--was scrumptious!