Looking downstream on the River Cree
Looking upstream on the River Bladnoch
Felling of commercial forestry in Galloway Forest Park
Looking upstream on the River Luce
North American Signal Crayfish
The sandy beach at Loch Grannoch
Belted Galloway Cattle, or 'Belties'
Fly fishing on the River Cree
A small upland burn
The High Cree, looking towards Cairnsmore of Fleet
A small waterfall on the Buchan Burn
A salmon from the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee
The week started with Jamie meeting up with Duncan Baillie, who heads up the fishing syndicate on the Glentrool Estate section of the Water of Minnoch. With the low water conditions it was a good opportunity to view and walk over many of the spawning tributaries of the upper Minnoch. Significant forestry restructuring has occurred over the last 10 years across the upper catchment. Acidification is not an issue here but forestry felling, particularly where the trees used to be right up to the banks, can result in silt concerns but no evidence of problems was found during this visit. Many of the smaller burns in this area used to be heavily over-shaded by the surrounding conifers and unable to support fish life but habitats have improved with the increased light levels and re-establishment of a buffer zone between the water courses and conifers. Although further forestry restructuring and good management of banksides is require, it is encouraging to see habitats improving up here in the important headwater areas.
On Wednesday, Rowan continued the school project with S3 Biology students from Dalry High School which began in December when the class had a visit to the Dee hatchery to see how the process of salmon egg fertilisation takes place, to tie in with a reproduction topic the students were currently studying. The salmon eggs that the students witnessed being laid down in troughs in December are now quickly developing and at the eyed ova stage allowing them to be transported to the school. On Wednesday, the class were given a talk as a reminder of the reproductive strategy of the salmon, the salmon lifestyle and threats to salmon – of which a range of local threats for the Dee salmon population were covered as well as pressures experienced at sea. The class will now rear their 100 eyed ova to alevins within a cooler tank in their biology laboratory. Having already seen how the Dee hatchery operates, the third part of their project will take place on a burn feeding into the Dee, where they will release their salmon and return again in summer to see how they have developed.
Neil headed across to the Water of Fleet to meet a team of volunteers from the Gatehouse of Fleet area to work on the river banks. Work has begun in the Rusko House area of the river to selectively thin out the overhanging bankside trees/shrubs to allow more light into the river. It is important to have a good balance of light and shade in a watercourse; each having its own vital properties to sustain a healthy fishery.