Dalmakether Burn Spawning Habitat Improvement Project
03 October 2014
The Dalmakether burn is a low gradient burn that enters the River Annan just south of Johnston Bridge. Much of the channel has been heavily modified and straightened over many years. Despite this there is fairly good nursery habitat for trout with lots of draped vegetation and undercut banks. Spawning areas though are at a premium with areas of unsorted very silty gravel acting as the only possible media for trout to use. The silt burdens in this material mean that egg survival is likely to be very low which will suppress the trout population in the area. This project aims to use natural processes within the river to clean the gravel in three locations and create areas where trout can spawn in suitable conditions. The project will be monitored over the course of the winter to ensure that no damage is caused to the river or banks via the intervention. Read More
Electrofishing Review 1997 to 2003
07 October 2014
Electrofishing is the traditional method of determining the health of fish stocks in the river. We have been doing this for over 18 years now on the Annan and have recently completed a review of all the data. The full revue can be downloaded below. In short we have got pretty stable numbers of salmon parr within the catchment but a decline in trout parr over the period. Underlying this though has been significant changes in the most important parts of the catchment for the production of fish. Salmon numbers have gone down in river like the Kinnel but have gone up in tributaries like the Milk. Is this evidence of stock structuring. This seems likely as whilst we have invested a lot in things like habitat improvements over the last few years it is unlikely to have had such profound effects.
Probably the most important tributary for juvenile fish of either species on the Annan is now the Annan Water (some call it the Little Annan) with further work required to understand what is going on throughout the catchment. Read the report
The Importance of Catch & Release
16 October 2014
As a result of the low water conditions which lasted the whole summer and the first half of the autumn the River Annan currently has numbers of both coloured sea trout and salmon in the system. The River Annan District Salmon Fishery Board would like to remind anglers coming to visit the Annan of the importance of catch and release and the importance (in what has been a poor year so far for salmon numbers) of ensuring that these fish be allowed to continue on their journey to spawn and if caught they should be released to the water as soon as possible. The majority of the anglers that visit the Annan either practise catch and release or apply common sense when taking a fish for the table but there are a minority of anglers that will ruin this for everyone.
Recently two salmon and six sea trout were confiscated by our bailiffs from two anglers fishing the river over the course of three days, one salmon was taken on the river bank and the other salmon plus the trout were taken from their hotel where they were staying. The anglers were cautioned over the offence. The RADSFB would like to stress that it does not condone this behaviour as under section 18 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act it is an offence to take unclean or unseasonable salmon. The RADSFB bailiffs will continue to monitor this problem with a view to cautioning and prosecuting further offenders.
In total the four sea trout would have produced about 6000 eggs and the hen salmon about 6500 eggs. Although this may be considered a small number of eggs, if this practice was allowed to continue through the whole catchment it would amount to a significant reduction in egg deposition.
River Annan Grayling Fishing Dates - 2015 Winter
19 January 2015
For the past 7 years the River Annan has been using anglers to monitor the status of the grayling stocks on the river. This is has created an important data set that can inform fishery management on the river. To help it is simple, just turn up on one of the dates below with either a fly rod or a float rod and go and fish on one of the fisheries we allocate you.
We meet in the Café 91, which can be found on 91-93 High Street, Lockerbie, DG11 2DA at 8:00am, have a chat and a cup of coffee and then it is off to the river. We then meet again at the Town Head Hotel which is on Townhead Street at the north of Lockerbie, to hand in catch returns. For people staying overnight the Townhead Hotel is offering a special grayling day rate of £70 for a twin room (Bed & Breakfast) and a single for £45 (Bed & Breakfast). Please inform the hotel that you are attending a grayling day when booking. All we ask for is for the length of every fish (whatever species) to be recorded and if people have accurate scales for the weight to be recorded. We also ask all participants to make a £10 donation to the River Annan Trust.
This year’s dates are as follows:
Sun Jan 25th; Sat Feb 7th; Sun Mar 1st; and Sun Mar 22nd.
Fighting back agains the Alien Invaders!
28 October 2014
Since 2010 the River Annan Trust has been fighting back against an alien invasion of Japanese knotweed, along with its closely related allies, giant and bohemian knotweed. Unlike our native plants, these alien invaders are free from any natural enemies which they have left behind in their native countries. As a consequence there is very little to hold them back and they can easily out-compete our native species. In time this can reduce the biodiversity of our river banks.
The River Annan catchment was mapped in 2008 finding 115 separate stands of knotweed. This equated to 1845m2 in size. By the end of this years control season (in the first week of September 2014) we the Trust had actually treated 288 stands at 12,993m2 along the main river and its tributaries. Why is there a large increase? Some stands were undoubtedly missed by the first surveys in 2008, many stands are new growth caused by years of cutting, strimming and breaking canes (sometimes from by the river while during high water conditions) and some are new reports from members of the public. The later has been a consequence of the raised profile of both Japanese knotweed and the project.
In 2014 we found and treated 91 (3770m2) new stands of knotweed in the battle against this alien invader. In this year alone we have found (and treated) more than we thought was in the whole catchment in 2010. However, the tide is turning and we have now treated every stand we have found in the catchment except one.
Giant knotweed engulfing the 'welcome to Brydekirk' sign. This was treated in 2013 and again in 2014.
The difference was noticable by the end of Septermber 2014 when the plant would have been up to 5 metres in height normally.
American Mink! Why are they a problem and what are we doing?
30 October 2014
American Mink (Neovison vison) are a non-native species introduced to the UK in the 1920’s for fur farming. It wasn’t long until mink began to escape in to the wild and the first recorded sighting in the wild was reported in 1948 with the first breeding record confirmed in 1956. The number of mink farms rose to over 700 in the mid 60’s with large shipments of mink being imported from North America and Scandinavia.
It wasn’t until 2003 that mink farms were finally closed in the UK and the keeping of animals based purely on the value of their fur was made illegal under the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000. This legislation only extended to England and Wales and a similar act was introduced to Scotland in 2002. It is worth noting that the last operating mink farm in Scotland closed in 1993 however the legislation was necessary to prevent new farms opening up. During the years mink farms were operational in the UK (1929-2003) there were a number of escapes and unfortunately many animals were deliberately released. The population quickly established in the wild, particularly along river banks and water bodies. Mink are now widespread throughout much of the UK.
An American Mink on the River Annan. Although normally a glossy dark brown colour variations can be found. Mink were farmed for fur and unusual colours such as grey and silver often fetched a higher price.
American Mink are semi aquatic mustelids (weasel family) and are native to much of North America from the southern states of the USA to the edge of the Arctic Circle in Canada and Alaska. Its impact on native species in the UK is largely through predation but competition for habitat and food can also play a part. Mink predation has been responsible for declines in ground nesting birds such as the common tern, arctic tern and the black-headed gull. This is particularly evident on some of the islands that mink have managed to inhabit. It is also though that mink played a large role in the disappearance of the Moorhen on the islands of Lewis and Harris. There is no doubt that mink impact upon ground nesting birds on the mainland but the species most impacted here is the water vole. The water vole is Britain’s fastest declining mammal and although not all of this can be attributed to mink (loss of habitat is certainly a large factor) they place an extra pressure on a species already in trouble. Although little is made of the impact of mink from an economic perspective they can inflict damage to chickens (particularly free-range), game birds and eco-tourism (through predation of ground nesting birds). Mink can also impact fisheries by taking juvenile salmon, trout and other fish species.
In the Minks native range its principle prey is the muskrat, a prolific breeder which can have two or sometimes three litters of six to eight young every year. With the minks natural prey not available in its introduced range it is inevitable that it will have an impact on UK species.
The Muskrat is a semi aquatic rodent which belongs to the same sub-family as voles and lemmings (Arvicolonae).
The River Annan Trust has been working to control mink numbers on the river for a number of years using a combination of mink rafts and tunnels. The rafts and tunnels contain a clay pad that detects the footprint of any mink passing through it. The Trust has trapped 51 mink since 2010 however in previous years at wasn’t uncommon to trap 50 or more in a year. The decrease in the number of mink trapped coincides with fewer prints on rafts and less sightings. Mink are extremely curious animals and as a consequence are easy to trap if they are present. Live capture traps are used and once traps are in place it is a legal requirement to check them every 24 hours to ensure the welfare of any trapped animal is not compromised. If a mink has been trapped it is dispatched humanely. The live capture traps allow us to release any non-target species unharmed.
Eradicating mink from a river catchment is unlikely, particularly if trapping is not taking place on neighbouring water bodies, but continuous monitoring and trapping will suppress the population and take the pressure off native species giving them a better opportunity to thrive.
The River Annan Trust uses a combination of rafts (top left) and tunnels (top right) to monitor for mink. Traps can be placed within the raft/tunnel if evidence of mink has been found on the clay pads.
The Environment Fair 2015
16 March 2015
The River Annan Trust attended the Environment Fair on 14 March 2015 and asked kids visiting out stall to colour in invertebrates and animals found on the river. We eneded up with 41 works of art and all of them have been added to our Environment Fair Art Gallery and can be found. If you couloured in on of the animals/insects then have a look and see if you can spot your masterpiece here.