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
In January, salmon eggs held in the Bladnoch hatchery began to eye up. Once a process known as ‘shocking’ is completed, the eggs are able to be transported out of the hatchery and this year, we took the opportunity to continue egg box studies in the upper Bladnoch as a means of determining water quality in this historically acid-rich environment.
The study is very simple; fill three egg boxes with 100 eyed salmon eggs in each box between gravel, secure the lid and bury within the river bed where salmon would naturally have been more likely to spawn (at the tail end of a pool where faster flowing/well-oxygenated water falls). Concentrate the sets of egg boxes in areas of particular interest (the Polbae Burn, Dargoal Burn and Loch Maberry outflow are three of six egg box sites in the upper Bladnoch) and return to retrieve the boxes when you expect the eggs will have long undergone hatching. Acidified water inhibits the hatching enzyme of salmon eggs from around pH 4.5, a figure the upper Bladnoch can regularly decrease to upon a spate event. This year’s Bladnoch egg boxes were placed in the river a few weeks ago, which means the eggs have potentially experienced four periods of higher flow – including in particular, yesterday’s flood event. Look out for more on this project when we return to the egg box sites in late March or April to uncover survival rates….
As well as using the salmon eggs to collect valuable data on water quality, we also like to stock some out in areas of the catchment where water quality can sustain life but where natural recolonization has been slow due to surrounding degraded habitat. In theory, this kind of stocking activity will help kick start a viable salmon population that in future, will be able to maintain itself as upper catchment water quality improves. Last week, we undertook stocking of eyed ova into two burns where suitable water quality and habitat will assist in this slow recovery programme of the upper Bladnoch.