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
The GNI (UK) Ltd. Beattock to Brighouse Bay Pipeline is scheduled to cross up to 36 watercourses on the Urr and Dee catchments. We recently completed baseline fish and invertebrate surveys to help highlight any sensitivities to fish and their habitats and identify where there is a need to carry out a fish rescue when the pipeline crossings commence next summer.
Upon the main river pipeline crossing points of the Urr and Dee, we were not surprised to find good numbers of fish but on the Buittle Burn that flows into the lower Urr we had our greatest surprise…
By autumn it can often be tricky to distinguish fry and parr by their size alone and at our survey site upon the Buittle Burn, we were somewhat stumped by the range of fry sizes we encountered, varying from 52 mm up to 100 mm! Whilst deliberating over where a fry/parr break point could be, we began to measure two large eels that we had picked up early on in the survey. Looking down into the bucket, low and behold, the eels were in fact river lamprey, clamping strongly to the side of the bucket! This was a great surprise, having previously only captured river lamprey in-river during their spawning time in the spring. The lampreys were quickly measured as 300 and 310 mm and replaced to continue mulling around in the burn, in preparation for spawning during the spring.
We progressed downstream, to the exact location that the pipeline will cross the Buittle Burn. Here, we continued doubting the high salmon fry density we had just recorded within the upstream site (43 fry within around 30 m2 of water) until processing time where we happened across two salmon parr – one of >145 mm in length, the other >165 mm. This settled my angst on the fry matter! It shouldn’t have been a surprise really, given the top site was a mixture of gravel/pebble and at this site, we had a good lump of woody debris at the tail end of the site to provide excellent parr cover. I buzzed the anode momentarily beneath the woody debris and immediately drew in a startling amount of fish, including a lovely brownie of 224 mm in length.
Onwards to the downstream site which was positioned beneath a break leading to a cattle waterhole (isolated by two watergates). I was dubious we would continue to draw so many fish with the site likely being impacted by silt input in some degree. But on cue, we collected 42 salmon fry and 2 very large parr alongside a sprinkling of trout fry within an 8 meter length fished!
Holding such a rich compliment of fish species (salmon, trout, lamprey, eels, stoneloach and sticklebacks), I think it is fair to say that the Buittle Burn continues to provide excellent nursery habitat for a wide range of fish species. The burn is a great example of how bankside fencing and woody debris in the appropriate places can greatly benefit fish diversity and abundance. The results of this single survey are a credit to the landowner who has followed best practice guidelines to help protect the environment, fish and fish habitat within the Buittle Burn.