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
On the 7th of May, Rowan retrieved the upper Bladnoch egg boxes which have been dotted around in the upper river since the 8th of February. We plant egg boxes as a means of assessing water quality in areas that suffer from acidification. When water pH drops below 5, salmon eggs quickly die.
A total of seven sites were planted this year with three egg boxes each containing 100 eyed ova. We have to use eyed ova because this is the earliest stage in the eggs development that they are robust enough to be moved from their trays in the hatchery. At this time, the eggs have also been through a process called shocking that uncovers any unfertilised and weak eggs in the batch that can then be removed. Eyed ova from a single batch of eggs are used so that we can be certain the eggs are of the same quality.
When burying our egg boxes this year, we added a seventh site to our usual six. This new site was located within the upper main stem of the river below the inflow from the Beoch Burn at Knowe Village. This was done under request from the Bladnoch DSFB. Whilst the eggs are planted in the river, we hope they will experience a series of high water flow events that will drop water pH to its lowest value. It is likely that over the last three months the upper Bladnoch has experienced three such events, including a very high flood event shortly after planting on the 13th of February.
This year’s results are very encouraging (see graph) with successful hatching of salmon to alevins between 94 % and 99 % in four sites – upper Polbae, Loch Maberry outflow and two main river sites at Waterside and below Beoch Burn inflow. The sites where water quality is degraded most by acidification remain at Dargoal Burn and lower Polbae Burn - which supported no survival and very low survival (1%) consecutively.
Aside from these results, it will be interesting to see if there are any signs of natural spawning in the upper Polbae Burn when we electrofish this summer. Some of you may remember, we found the first naturally spawned salmon (in over 20 years of electrofishing surveys) in the upper Polbae Burn in summer 2012.