Journey from an Exmoor Stream to the Atlantic Ocean - RIVER

As the well-oxygenated, clean river speeds it's way through the valley, more streams join and a RIVER develops. The surrounding land is less steep now and wider. The river starts to slow taking on a gentler, meandering course to the sea.

At the middle reaches fish such as the large scaled chub (Leuciscus cephalus) (<50cm) can be found hiding in the shadows cast by the overhanging vegetation above. These omnivorous fish are not choosy- selecting a diet of insects, fish eggs and worms when juvenile, to worms, slugs, berries and even small fish when mature.

Further downstream we join the lower reaches. Here the river is wide and slow flowing. Fish such as the colourful rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) (<30cm) can be found in the summertime shoaling just below the surface. Their upturned mouths are ideal for picking off insects and plant matter floating on the surface.

The long living carp (Cyprinus carpio) (<60cm) can reach an age of 60 years. It spends it's time rooting through the gravel or mud bottom detecting food types with it's fleshy mouth barbels. The perch (Perca fluviatilis) on the other hand will make use of its vertical flank stripes camouflaging itself amongst the weeds. This stealth predator awaits unsuspecting small fish before lunging out with it's surprisingly large mouth.

Still water ponds can also be present here along the broad, flattening valleys. Here, during breeding time, the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) (<10cm), can be observed going about it's duties. It constructs a bottom nest of organic debris hoping it's efforts will be sufficient to win over the female and breed.