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
This week we were out in the field with pupils from Kirkcudbright Academy assessing the habitat of two tributaries near Loch Grannoch. After an early frost, the weather was kind to us and we spent a sunny few hours looking at different attributes of habitat and water quality in this picturesque part of the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee catchment.
As part of a group of development stage projects being managed by the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership, we developed an education project where pupils from Kirkcudbright Academy were asked to help us out with the Arctic charr translocation to Loch Grannoch feasibility study (run under the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership development stage of a larger Heritage Lottery Funded project. For more information see http://www.gallowayglens.org/).
In the wider charr translocation feasibility study we have been looking into whether the water quality in Loch Grannoch is now capable of sustaining a reintroduced population of Arctic charr (for information on charr see http://www.snh.gov.uk/about-scotlands-nature/species/fish/freshwater-fish/charr/). Charr are thought to have died out from the loch after the 1950s, widely recognised to be because of acidification. Trout held on throughout the most acidified period and following some recovery of water quality, numbers of them have increased and they appear to be doing well. For some time there has been desire locally to try and establish a population of charr back into the loch to re-establish its original biodiversity. In order to assess the level of recovery of the loch to see if this can now be done we are looking at many factors, with an emphasis on the current water quality of the loch and its inflowing tributaries.
Coming back to the education project, it commenced with a visit to the school by GFT to tell them about the history of Loch Grannoch and its charr population, the reason they died out, the translocation feasibility study, and how they could help in this work. GFT staff have already been out to assess the availability of spawning habitat around the perimeter of the loch itself, but we needed to assess the tributaries as well because some charr populations are known to spawn in running watercourses. So earlier this week we got out in the field with teams of S2 pupils from Kirkcudbright Academy who were keen to assess the conditions of two tributaries flowing into Loch Grannoch. As part of this work they collected different habitat parameters and got a chance to use specialised monitoring equipment to assess the water quality. The pupils were keen to get into the burns to get some habitat measurements and do some hands on assessment work, and weren’t afraid to get their feet wet – over the top of the wellies in some cases! Further to the field visit each team is going to analyse their own data, look into charr requirements and come to a decision as to whether they think each watercourse could potentially be suitable for Arctic charr to spawn in, or not, giving their reasoning of course.
We would like to thank Miss McEwen, Mr Brown and all the S2 pupils who attended the field visit and gathered useful data to help the project, and the Heritage Lottery Fund (see https://www.hlf.org.uk/ for details) and the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership who supported this work. We also look forward to hearing the conclusions of each survey team!