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
GFT returned back to work properly on the 7th January. Since returning we have had a lot to catch up on so this summary covers some of our recent work up to Friday 25th January.
Over a few dry days in early January, Jamie and Jackie carried out a habitat survey at the top of the Water of Ken for a proposed wind farm development. It has been a few years since we’d been up surveying here, and we had really forgotten what exceptional salmonid habitat this river holds. After the survey we were so enthused about this perfect habitat. But the tragedy is that none of the upper river (upstream of Kendoon Dam) is accessible to migratory fish. This ideal habitat – the very epitome of salmon country – is home to only brown trout, and perhaps a few minnows or stoneloach. Since the completion of the Kendoon Dam in 1936, upstream migration has not been possible to any fish species to over 260 km2 of upper catchment which contains ideal salmonid habitat along most of its length.
Following the huge floods experienced this winter, GFT and SEPA were requested by Stair Estates to look at some areas of erosion which were concerning the Estate. Both parties were asked to consider if the erosion was damaging (erosion is a very important beneficial process in the right places to add new spawning gravels into river systems) to the overall river and if so to advise on what remedial works would be suitable.
Many people across the region continue to consider developing hydroelectric schemes on many important fish supporting water courses. Already this year, GFT biologists have visited 2 possible schemes (one near the Urr and another on the Bladnoch catchment) to provide comment on potential fish impacts and how to mitigate for them. We have also responded through planning to a proposal for a large scheme at the Barhoise Falls on the River Bladnoch.
On the 22nd January, Jamie attended a North Solway Area Advisory Group meeting – for information on these meetings, see www.sepa.org.uk/water/river_basin_planning/. The group looked at a number of pressures on local freshwaters and projects planned to help address them including some GFT projects. This was followed in the afternoon by a meeting of the newly formed Solway Flood Risk Management Local Advisory Group. Time will tell whether GFT involvement in this group is a good use of our time but they are looking at advising on proposed flood risk management plans which local authorities are writing. As well as hard engineering solutions these plans are looking at natural processes to manage flood risk which could involve slowing down drainage from forestry or allowing natural flood plains to store excess flood water.
Tongland Tours have commenced earlier than usual this year with a group of eight students visiting from Motherwell College on a bitterly cold day last week. Despite the cold weather and not being able to see the flood gates open (due to a lack of water storage at the time), the students thoroughly enjoyed their visit and Rowan was impressed by the enthusiasm shown by the group. The Tongland Tour is available for groups interested in Hydro Power. Please email visit.hydros@ScottishPower.com to book a place.