News Archive 2014
Annandale Estates, St Ann's
Tel: 01576 470600
The River Annan Trust to attend the Environment Fair
07 March 2014
The popular Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair is coming of age, turning 18 this year! The event has received special recognition this year as it has been included in the prestigious Year of Homecoming 2014 programme. So come along for free and help celebrate 18 years of learning how to look after our planet. DG One Leisure Complex in Dumfries is gearing up to welcome hundreds of people on Saturday 8th March. Doors open at 10am and stay open till 3.30pm.
Over 50 environmental organisations will be in attendance, representing a lively mix of small local projects and larger national concerns. Find out what’s being done in Dumfries and Galloway to protect and enhance our very special environment, and more broadly what we can all do to ensure the best future for our world. Dozens of stalls will be providing a wide range of crafts, quizzes, demonstrations, films, interactive displaysand things to make. All of which will help everyone ‘learn, enjoy and get involved’ with their environment.
Organiser Morag Walker said, “There will be all sorts of hands-on activities. You’ll be able to have a go at giant jenga, make a willow bird feeder, plant a seed or make bats from toilet tubes! As it proved so popular the interactive river system will be back again this year, as well as a selection of local fish to find out about”.
We are looking at local and global issues this year. At a local level you will be able to find out more about your new household waste and recycling collection service that is being planned for the region. There will also be the opportunity to find out more about sustainability at a global level by chatting to visitors from Malawi.Make 2014 the year you do something different. There will be a great range of local organisations on handto help guide you towards environmental volunteering opportunities, exploring your local area, spotting andidentifying wildlife or even recording your local flora and fauna to help support endangered species.Clair McFarlan, the Event Manager, said “It’s difficult to believe that this is our 18th year. This is a great family occasion and we are now welcoming adults that have grown up coming to the fair each year. In fact they are starting to bring their own children along! It shows that there is always something new to discover and explore at the Environment Fair. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday 8th March to help celebrate our special Year of Homecoming 2014 event!”
Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland Director commented, “2014 promises to be a very exciting year for Scotland where we can celebrate all that’s great about our country and place the spotlight on our greatest assets. We are delighted to have the Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair as part of the ever extending Homecoming Scotland 2014 programme. It presents a fantastic opportunity for both visitors and locals to enjoy what’s set to be a great event for Dumfries and Galloway.
”Free entry is still the order of the day, thanks to funding support from Scottish National Heritage and Dumfries and Galloway Council. The event is managed by the Crichton Carbon Centre.
The Environment Fair is on Saturday 07th March 2014 10am to 3:30 pm. Come alonf and see us there!
The River Annan Trust to attend the Environment Fair
11 March 2014
Saturdays Dumfries & Galloway Environment Fair event was excellent with loads of kids as well as adults visiting out stand to learn more about the river, the fish and invertebrates that call the river home and the problems caused by Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).
Over 50 different local organisations attended the event on Saturday and it is estimated that the event attracted over 1500 visitors. Hopefully we gave a positive impression of the work we do to improve the River Annan as a place for people and wildlife and maybe even inspired one or two future entomologists or river managers.
Top - How a river works
Below left Kids learning about the invetebrates that live in the River Annan
Right - A volunteer demonstrating the interactive river
Pollution on the Pow Burn
12 March 2014
This photo was e mailed to the River Annan District & Salmon Fishery Board (DSFB) yesterday. It is of silt running from a road construction site on the A75 into the Pow Burn. Unfortunately the communication by e-mail for things like this is a bit slow and there is a danger the event will have passed before the DSFB or SEPA know about it. As it happens it was still running, though not as bad when the DSFB and SEPA arrived. Formal samples have been taken in the hope that this will be taken further.
Incidents like this should be phoned in straight away as they need to be acted upon quickly. The numbers to call are:
SEPA : 01387 720502
River Annan DSFB: 01576 470600 or 07710 331079
Staff from either organisation can not be everywhere at once and we rely upon the public reporting incidents.
River Annan Winter Grayling Events
14 March 2014
Every year the River Annan Trust organises a number of winter grayling fishing events to find out more about the status of stocks of these fish in the river, and other stocks of fish caught by accident by anglers fishing for grayling. The event's have proved popular with a number of anglers and we are now getting some good data which will be useful for showing long term trends in populations and highlight problems we should be aware of. As an angler you will get opportunities to fish sections of the river that you may never have fished before and the chance to meet lots of like minded people who share a
Dates for the 2013-2014 Winter
Sunday 16th March
Meet: Café 91 on Lockerbie High Street at 8:30 am to be allotted a fishery and take part.
Need directions? Click here
Cost: £10 donation to River Annan Trust.
For more information contact Nick or Michael on 01576 470600 or 07710 331079
You can download the information poster here
Riverbank erosion spreading Japanese knotweed
24 March 2014
Japanese knotweed propogates vegetatively and is often spread as a consequence of human behaviour. However there is another way it can spread and that is through heavy rainfall and rivers in spate as this photo demonstrates. A large part of the plant known as a rhizome (the underground root systems) was found on the Annan Water after breaking away from the rest of the plant and making its way downstream after the river bank it was attached to had eroded.
Japanese knotweed dies back in the winter leaving the river bank bare and susceptible to erosion. This will have been exacerbated by the heavy rainfall experienced during the winter months. Not only does this increase the risk of flooding through sediment build up but it can also spread Japanese knotweed as parts of the plant are washed downstream while the river is in spate. The rhizome has the ability to re-generate into a new plant from small fragments as small as a finger nail and it is likely that this piece of rhizome would have formed a new plant if it had not been found. The rhizome of Japanese knotweed is the largest part of the plant and can be up to 3 metres deep and 7 metres long. The part of the plant that you see above ground is just the tip of the iceberg.
Japanese knotweed does not produce any seeds in the UK as only the female plant exists. In fact it is likely that all the Japanese knotweed found in the UK is a clone from the same mother plant. Instead it spreads through vegetative propagation often through accidental (or not) human behaviour such as strimming and cutting or by the river erosion as illustrated above.
Find out more about Japanese knotweed here
Read more about the invasive species project here
Report Japanese knotweed: Invasives@annanfisheryboard.co.uk
River Annan Spring Salmon
26 March 2014
The River Annan salmon season started on the 25th of February with very high water and completely unfishable conditions. It wasn’t until the 1st of March before the first salmon was landed, a 10lb spring fish caught by Joe Black on Newbie. Joe also caught the second spring salmon on the 19th of March weighing 15lbs which was also from Newbie but with more settled conditions and more anglers starting to venture out the salmon season is beginning to get going. On the 25th of March local angler George Renwick caught this nice 10lb spring salmon from Hoddom, the Annan’s first spring salmon on the fly. All these fish were safely released in accordance with the river Annan’s spring regulations (all salmon must be released before the 1st of June) to help conserve these wonderful fish. There are plenty of rods currently available on the lower and middle river, angling pressure so far has been very light but there is a realistic chance of a fish given the right conditions.
To book salmon fishing on the Annan click here.
Alien Invasion at Brydekirk
04 April 2014
In 2013 it was discovered that an alien invasion had begun in the sleepy village of Brydekirk. Instead of little green men the invader was a plant in the knotweed family called giant knotweed. Much larger than Japanese knotweed, giant knotweed is a native of Northern Japan and the Sakhalin Islands. It is less common than Japanese knotweed in the UK but is probably under recorded. Like its close relative it does not produce any seeds in the UK, instead it spreads through plant material that is broken off and washed downstream.
Giant knotweed lives up to its name and can grow to heights of 4-5 metres compared to the 2-3 metres that Japanese knotweed typically reaches. The leaves of giant hogweed grow up to 40cm long while Japanese knotweed leaves are no longer than 15cm. Similarly to Japanese knotweed the plant produces woody, knotted, bamboo like stems however they lack the purple specks often associated with Japanese knotweed.
This stand was treated in 2013 and the initial impact of that treatment is encouraging. We will have to wait until the summer of 2014 to fully assess its success. The large dead canes of giant knotweed can restrict access for stem injection later in the summer. To prevent this we went out with volunteers fro Apex Scotland and removed the canes.
Hopefully we are winning the battle against alien invaders in Brydekirk!
To read more about the Invasive Non-Native Species project click here
Giant knotweed taking over an area of river bank and engulfing the welcome to Brydekirk sign. Like Japanese knotweed, this giant outcompetes native species and reduces biodiversity.
Japanese knotweed (left) with purple speckled stems while giant hogweed has green stems (above).
Four knotweed species from left to right are: Giant, bohemian, Japanese & Himalayan knotweed.
Are hatcheries negatively affecting salmon numbers?
16 April 2014
ITV Border News spoke to the River Annan Trust about the recently published RAFTS stocking policy. The news story was an opportunity to focus on the things that can improve a fishery such as the fish pass which has increased the availability of spawning habitat that was previously unavailable.
You can read the full article and watch the video here
To read the RAFTS stocking policy click here
EU Wide Blacklist of Invasive Species
17 April 2014
Many people will know of the damage that can be caused by Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) to the native ecology, the economy and to peoples health. To limit their impact measures to stop Invasive plants animals or insects getting into the EU were voted in on Wednesday. The legislation bans species declared to be of “Union concern” and requires more and better-coordinated action by member states to tackle the threat.
INNS cost EU countries around €12billion each year and many member states have already had to spend considerable resources in controlling them. The lack of a co-ordinated approach between member states is thought to have hindered progress and this will be addressed by the new legislation. It will require member states to identify pathways of introduction and develop surveillance systems and action plans to combat INNS. This is likely to include an increase in official checks at EU borders. For EU member states with existing widespread problems they will be required to draw up management plans to combat INNS.
The blacklist of INNS (yet to be disclosed) of EU concern will list species that should not be introduced, transported, placed on the market, kept, bred, grown or released in the environment. For breaches of the legislation the ‘polluter pays’ principal will be adopted for the recovery of restoration costs. Each member state will be responsible for defining appropriate penalties for breaches of legislation.
The legislation will need to be formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers before it goes any further.
The River Annan Trust has been succesfully tackling invasive species for the last 4 years vastly reducing the impact of INNS locally. To find out more about the project click here
To read the BBC article and watch the video click here
Japanese knotweed costs the UK economy £166 million and the Scottish economy £4.4 million every year.
"Check, Clean, Dry" Campaign to combat spread of Invasive Non-Native Species
21 April 2014
The River Annan Trust and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) alongside partner organisations are encouraging recreational water users in Dumfries and Galloway to thoroughly check, clean and dry any equipment as part of a campaign to ensure that invasive non-native species are not easily spread across Scotland's rivers and lochs.
A UK-wide initiative, the "Check, Clean, Dry" campaign aims at educating regular water users about the way in which aquatic plants and animals can unwittingly be transported by equipment, such as kayaks and fishing gear and threaten Scotland's delicate natural water environment.
Not all non native species are invasive, but those that are, such as Canadian Pondweed and North American Signal Crayfish, can be damaging to our environment, economy and the way we live. They crowd out native plants, prey on wildlife and carry disease. They cost Scotland as much as £244 million to the economy per year through the damage caused to buildings and infrastructure, leisure and tourism, forestry and aquaculture.
Anne Connick, Planning Officer for SEPA's Catchment Management Initiative, said:
"Dumfries & Galloway has some of the finest lochs, rivers and coastlines in Scotland. Simple actions, that can be undertaken by everyone, to check, clean and dry all equipment before and after use in the water, can significantly reduce the risk of spreading unwanted species and diseases
into or out of the region. One person transporting one animal or plant fragment to a new location, can create devastating affects for our native plants and animals, affecting tourism, recreation, infrastructure and businesses that rely on the waters affected.
"Once a non-native species reaches a new location it can be impossible to eradicate it. Prevention really is the best way to protect our valuable Scottish landscapes from invasion, and I would encourage everyone that uses and loves the water to please participate and help raise awareness of this campaign."
Leaflets and posters will be on display across Dumfries and Galloway as part of the campaign, to encourage the public to be mindful of invasive species whilst enjoying the water environment. Identification guides will also be available to help illustrate the various plants and creatures that regular water users should be aware of.
Stan Whitaker, SNH's expert on invasive non-native species, said:
"Very few of Scotland's rivers and lochs are seriously affected by non-native species but we still need to be vigilant. Once established, it's particularly hard to control the spread of freshwater species. Water users can help protect these special places and the water sports they love by following these simple steps."
Jamie Ribbens, Senior Fisheries Biologist for the Galloway Fisheries Trust, said:
"GFT fully support the 'Check, Clean, Dry' initiative and will be working closely with fishery interests to help role out the campaign locally. It would be a total disaster if something like killer shrimp was accidently introduced to a local fishery. Native
ecology, such as aquatic invertebrates and young fish, would be decimated. Impacts would be long term as there is no known method to eradicate killer shrimp. It is essential for us all to take all possible precautions to stop the possible introduction of invasive species."
Be Plant Wise initiative
In support of the campaign, local gardeners are also being encouraged to appropriately dispose of garden plants, specifically from ponds and water features, under the Be Plant Wise initiative.Certain non-native pond plants have the potential to become invasive by outcompeting native plants, clogging waterways and smothering valuable habitats for wildlife. Once they get into a river or pond they grow very quickly, are spread by running water and are costly to control. When they clean out their ponds, gardeners are advised to compost excess plants with care and under no circumstances dump plants in the wild
More information about the Check, Clean, Dry campaign can be found here
More information about the Be Plant Wise Campaign can be found here
You can find out more about biosecurity on the River Annan here
Debris In Rivers
7 May 2014
Occasionally we get asked if we want debris removed from rivers and burns because it will make it easier for fish to migrate or just to make the place look tidier. In some areas the debris is a bit awkward for the anglers and sometimes it is declared that the debris constitutes a flood risk. Almost all of the time though careful consideration must be given before the removal of any structure as they are often the most important fish holding features in a reach of water and fish populations will decline if we keep our watercourses too tidy. When timber in particular falls in the river it provides both refuge away from bird and mammal predators and a site for important invertebrates to feed and breed. Rarely does it constitute an impending flood risk and trout and salmon are very adapted for getting past quite large rafts of woody debris collecting in rivers. When the angler wants the stuff removed to gain easier access to the fish they should think more along the lines of will the fish actually be there should the offending article be removed.
Over this summer the River Annan Trust intends to walk all of the side burns and make an inventory of the amount of this stuff in the rivers. It may well be that some will be earmarked for removal but in all likely hood we may well be making a case for having more of it in place and consider partially felling limbs of trees to land in the water in such a way as they become jammed. This is particularly important in the smaller watercourses as they act as honey pots for trout production.
Fallen trees creating a tangle of complicated habitats that are trout heaven - leave well alone!
A piece of rather random agricultural equipment that has washed into the river and been forgotten about. almost designed to plug a bridge and create a flood issue in the future!
Kirpatrick Flemming Primary School
30 May 2014
Kirpatrick Flemming Primary School are learning all about rivers and the River Annan Trust is helping them to understand about the life in the river. The students have had a classroom session and have been set some homework to describe the salmon lifecycle in any way they want. We will be back in the school in the next few weeks to see what they have done but we have been told that some have done plays, some have done posters and some have done poetry. When in the school yesterday we were shown a salmon dress that one pupil has made which will be used to illustrate their topic when we return.
Yesterdays visit was all about the bugs and we went down to the Kirtle to do some kick samples and use some simple keys to identify the beasties they found. Everyone participated, many got wet and they all seem to enjoy learning. The School is a credit to the community and we look forward to returning soon.
Two students from Kirkpatrick Flemming Primary School checking out the river
Assessing Barriers to Fish Migration
23 June 2014
When people think of barriers to fish migration they are normally thinking of large structures like dams and weirs but a great many other structures can cause problems. On the Annan we are particularly concerned about sea trout and we need to look at the areas that sea trout will chose to spawn. These are often well into the head waters in the tiny 'Lilliputian' burns. These areas can easily be forgotten but there are often significant barriers for the fish to cross before they spawn. Road and track crossings can be of particular concern with small culverts commonly used to get the water from one side to the other as quickly as possible. Many of these culverts are fine but some a real fish stoppers and a succession of difficult ones will have a demonstrably bad effect on the numbers of fish present within a river. As a desk top exercise we have been looking at the number of road crossings in just one sub catchment - the Evan water. Here we found 165 locations where a burn has to go through a track or a road, normally in the form of a culvert but sometimes as a ford. Yesterday we decided to go an look at some of them. We only managed to check out 25 as they were in very remote areas but we found that out of these 6 were barriers to fish migration and effectively chopping of the very tops of the river to fish migration.
We estimate that we have got something in the order of 2,500 road crossings in the Annan catchment. Some of these are part of the national or local road network, some of these are on farm tracks and a huge number are in forestry areas. We are currently mapping them all but we have no real idea about how many of these are causing problems, the only way to do this will be to visit each one and evaluate them on the ground. This is going to be a bit of a headache as it means we will have to resource around about 100 days work for two people to achieve this. The trust will do a fair amount of this but in order to get better coverage and speed the whole process up we would like some help from volunteers. If you can give a few days of your time up we will provide a list of locations to check out. All you need to do is take a couple of scale photos at each location and provided a brief description of what is there. We will provide all the maps and some basic training on what to look out for. You will also need a vehicle and be reasonably fit.
If you can help drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The more that people can help the better as we can then get a better understanding of where all the barriers are ad plan for their removal.
178 water crossings have been mapped in the Evan Water catchment alone.
Fly Fishing Masters UK Introduction to the Italian Style of Casting
30 June 2014
Italian Style Fly fishing on the Annan! On the 13th of July Hoddom will be hosting an introduction to the art of fly fishing the Italian way. Massimo Magliocco and Philip Bailey from FFM will be the hosts and will teach you many techniques such as 'back hand', 'under the tip' and 'angular' which will enable you to put flies in places that trout live but are often inaccessible to ordinary casts. There will be a fee of £30 but this also includes all of the fishing for the day as well. For more information contact Philip Bailey on email@example.com
For more information click here
Angular the loop is formed
Low parallel the line is in tension and near the water
Under tip cast under the bushes sequence 2
New Fishing Huts on the River Annan
10 July 2014
Volunteers from the APEX U-Turn programme have again been busy on the river, this time building fishing huts for the U.A.A.A on the Applegarth beat. Over the past month two huts have now been built with one between Lochbrow and Archwood and the other near the Applegarth wildlife sanctuary at the bottom of the beat. There are further plans to build a hut near the Target pool on the middle of the beat as well as a further two huts on the Upper beat by the end of the summer. The APEX U-Turn programme is aimed at the long term unemployed, those at risk of offending or re-offending and people tackling poverty, all are given the opportunity to help themselves regain and build their confidence and motivation.
In total the APEX volunteers have now built seven fishing huts on three beats of the Annan with a further six left to build as well as river bank steps, styles and bridges providing improved access for anglers and other river users.
Head Water Bailiffs update
14 July 2014
Over the last two months there has been an increase in the number of anglers found on the river fishing without written permission. Under section 6 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) 2007 Act it is an offence to fish for salmon and sea trout without written permission or legal right.
No anglers were found to be in possession of fish in any of these cases and all were removed from the water having recorded their details including car registrations, all of this information has been shared with Police Scotland who have been heavily involved.
All of the anglers removed were from the South Lanarkshire area and all were found fishing in the same area (from behind Johnstonebridge services to the M74 Bridge at Johnstonebridge on the Annandale Estates fishery).
After consulting with Police Scotland, Annandale Estates have since been advised to put up signs at the main access points on their beat advising anglers that fishing is with permit only. Although we would prefer not to have signs up and down the river stating the obvious this is the only way to protect from the usual defence of “we thought it was free fishing because there are no signs to say otherwise”. Any anglers now found to be fishing without written permission or legal right will be arrested and charged under section 6 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) 2007 Act.
Any anglers that are concerned about or have information regarding poaching offences within the Annan catchment can contact the Fishery Board on 07872 128739 or Police Scotland on 101.
Balsam bashing at Mill Loch
06 August 2014
Himalayan balsam is the tallest annual plant found in the UK and this combined with a lack of natural enemies to keep its growth in check means it can quickly outcompete and shade out native plants to form a dense monocultures that lacks the diversity needed for a healthy ecosytem.
Becuase the plant was introduced to the UK without its natural enemies it has an unfair advantage over native species. Along the banks of the River Annan balsam can easily grow to 2 metres in height. Surveys of the plant in its native range in the foot hills of the Himalayas reveal that the plant is much smaller as its growth is kept in check by a host of insects and pathogens. The plant doesnt just impact upon biodiversity, it can restrict access to the river bank and lochs and block pathways. The plant dies back in winter leaving river banks bare and susceptable to erosion.
Himalayan balsam is a notoriously difficult invasive non-native plant to control but where we have isolated populations it is possible. With the help of volunteers we have been removing the plant at Mill Loch. The aim of control control work is to remove the plant before it sets seed. Balsam is surprisingly shallow rooted and can be pulled out by hand or cut below the lowest node. The River Annan Trust has worked with Apex to remove balsam from Mill Loch throughout July and the work will hopefully make a big difference to the number of plants growing there.
Before and after photos of one of the areas controlled at Mill Loch. The removal of Himalayan balsam should allow the natural vegetation to come back improving the biodiversity around the loch.
Apex volunteers removing balsam at Mill Loch.
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 2014/15 Winter
01 December 2014
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:
Sat Dec 13th; Sun Jan 11th; 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.