Alyx has written her third blog covering her internship at GFT
I am now reaching my last few months as a Galloway Glens Intern for Galloway Fisheries Trust however I have been offered and happily accepted a 3-month position following the internship to help on current and new projects that GFT has taken on. Since the last blog I have contributed to many of the projects going on here, now that electrofishing is done, I have been able to get involved with different things, learning a whole array of new skills.
Deployed in waters across the Bladnoch catchment there are 20 temperature loggers that record the water temperature every 15 minutes, as a part of the national Scotland River Temperature Monitoring Network (SRTMN) run by Marine Scotland (MS). I have been helping Kenny with downloading this data as each logger has to be retrieved from site for the information to be collected. Using the data from across Scotland MS have developed a method to predict future water temperatures and it is important to monitor any changes in river temperature because it can directly impact on trout and salmon populations. Recent trends show it is currently rising and being able to predict sites more susceptible to this rise will allow more targeted mitigation action required to combat this rise. One of the more effective ways is tree planting as deciduous trees create shade over the rivers. Targeted tree planting needs to be prioritised. Which is another thing I have been able to get involved with, helping Luke plant trees. Winter is the best time to plant trees as the roots are dormant and less likely to die from being planted.
All the invertebrate samples collected during the electrofishing season needed to be sorted, of which the last was completed very recently! While Dan sorted the majority, I had the chance to go through a few of my own, identifying the invertebrates down to family level. This information is used to calculate a WHPT (Walley Hawkes Paisley Trigg) invertebrate index which gives you an ASPT (average score per taxon) and Ntaxa (the number of scoring taxa). The WFD (Water Framework Directive) status is based on these and allows water quality to be fit into a category reflecting the waters health based on what invertebrates are surviving there. These results can also be put through a programme called RICT that compares what is found to what should be there. While the last pre-collected sample has been sorted, I have still been able to collect in situ samples during temperature logger downloading and look at live aquatic invertebrates. I have found flatworms, and a few mayfly nymph species of particular interest due to the lack of local records, which I have been able to address by submitting records of my own.
Also during the last month, I have had the chance to sit in on a few meetings and met with people from Buccleuch Estate along with members of the Environment Agency) on the Border Esk catchment to discuss things like Giant hogweed and other INNS (invasive non-native species) control. As part of such I have been able to carry out habitat surveys with Tracy along the Border Esk which is a catchment I have been exploring as a part of my own project. I have been writing a report compiling the last 5 years of electrofishing data on the Border Esk of which I plotted the most recent years of data for each site on a GIS map, using skills I learned having completed a GIS course.
Last week Galloway Glens organised a meet up for all of their interns, current and past, where we discussed topics of what the land means to us and what skills working with Galloway Glens has allowed us to grow along with what we’ve learned working with our specific companies. We took part in a session exploring our goals and where we want to be in the future, what we had learned so far and hope to learn. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with people of a similar age in a similar position yet in such a different field of work. Hearing about everyone’s experiences and training really put into perspective the broad nature of what you can make of internship and how it has helped each individual in ways specific to them while allowing them to also develop transferrable skills.
I would like to reaffirm my gratitude towards Galloway Glens, the Hollywood Trust and Galloway Fisheries Trust for allowing me to take this opportunity as an intern and make the absolute most of it.