Once the ground had defrosted in mid-February the Crieff Green Routes to Wellbeing group were able to start work on re-edging the paths around MacRosty Park. This turned out to be quite physical work. Using lawn-edgers we could cut the turf and soil back to where the new edge was to go, making sure to keep relatively neat lines. Using hoes, we could scrape the cut turf off the tarmac paths and sweep it into piles. The large amount of cut soil was then shovelled into wheel barrows, and many barrow loads were carted away. In places the grass had grown over the path by over half a foot on each side – meaning that once we had finished there was an addition foot of path to walk on! We are hoping to continue this good work over the next few weeks, targeting the areas where the paths have really been taken over.
On Tuesday 22nd, one of the volunteer groups in MacRosty Park in Crieff braved the wintery conditions to cut back some of the encroaching vegetation. The vegetation surrounding the toilet block had got to the stage where accessing the items stored behind the building was nearly impossible, not to mention being a bit of an eye-sore.
As seen in the before and after photos, there was quite a transformation! (not to mention the addition of more snow…)
If you would like to volunteer with community greenspace, or simply want to find out more please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the last couple of months the Portmoak Paths Group amd Portmoak Community Council have been working hard to maintain the historical “Dryside Road” core path that runs from Easter Balgedie, behind Wester Balgedie to GlenLomond, after which it continues as a vehicular route. The path is well known to some of the locals, but has never benefitted from proper signage. For their last meeting of the year, Ranger Calum met with the group on the 13th December to install new signage posts at either end of the path, as well as another at the start of the core path to Glenvale.
We used a new signage design, one of the first to be used for the core paths in Perth and Kinross, and incorporated it into the new posts. Compared to the finger posts and large arrow blades used elsewhere, these new designs are smaller and mounted directly onto a shorter fence post. This allows easier installation and maintenance, as well as reducing the risk of signs being hit by large vehicles driving past – especially important to consider when placing signs at the entrance to farms! From a walker or cyclists perspective, the signs are at a better height for being read, and they are less intrusive on the landscape.
Moving forward, there are plans to further improve the path by installing a new gate and cutting back vegetation where the path has overgrown.
On 22nd November we went out to meet the Portmoak Path Group, bringing along our “flail” – essentially a large grass cutter capable of cutting long and thick undergrowth. We were cutting the vegetation and grass along a 600m length of core path between Kinnesswood and Portmoak Moss, before it gets too overgrown. Despite a bit of rain, the flail made short work of the cutting while some volunteers used machetes to remove some bracken on the path edge.
Andrew from the group tackling the path edge
Reminding ourselves which button does what…
The freshly cut path – ready to be walked!
Calum taking the flail for a spin
The Portmoak Paths Group meets almost every week to maintain a variety of paths in the Kinnesswood/Baldegie area. If you would like to be involved, or to be put in contact with the group please contact Ranger Calum at email@example.com
In order to keep the paths on our countryside sites in good condition we need to prevent too much water from the undergrowth from flowing onto the path. Of course, it is never possible to keep the path completely dry, so the path is usually shaped to ensure that water is able to run off the path rather than puddling. An important method for this is to have drainage ditches on some of the wetter parts of the paths to allow water to run away from, and underneath, the paths. At this time of year, once all the leaves have come off the trees, it isn’t unusual to find that drains suddenly become clogged – more so if the drains haven’t been cleared for a couple of years.
We were recently joined by the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) to undertake some work on the drainage ditches on Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park to maintain the high quality paths. Despite a bit of rain, the 13 volunteers worked along a stretch of the pathway on the western side of Kinnoull Hill. While in the area we took the opportunity to remove some of the younger beech trees, in keeping with our long-term plan of encouraging the regeneration of native oak, birch and pines trees.
The PSYV did a fantastic job, both at clearing the ditches and removing surrounding vegetation and beech. Although the ditches hadn’t quite reached the stage of being fully clogged up the difference before and after was still quite significant, and now the ditches should be good for a couple more years. To find out more about the PSYV visit their website or check them out on their Facebook page.
Many people think of most wildlife slowing down for the winter or, in the case of some birds, flying to warmer climates. But, there is still plenty of wildlife to be seen – including some special winter visitors!
Red squirrels are still busy looking for food to store away for the winter months. They are frequently seen foraging on the forest floor or scrambling up the trunk of a pine tree. Your best chance of seeing them is to look in your local coniferous woodlands. Be aware of them running across the road though, as they don’t have very good road sense! Find out where they have been spotted recently on the Red Squirrels in Perth and Kinross Facebook page
Red squirrel and a blue-tit at a feeder spotted by Ranger Calum. Do you know of any feeders near you?
One sound that is often associated with the arrival of the colder months is the calls from large flocks of geese flying overhead. You may see the large “V” formations as they pass by. Did you know that this “V” is a great example of teamwork? Each bird flying reduces the air and wind resistance for the bird behind, allowing them to fly further before getting tired – they also take it in turns to fly at the front!
If you are lucky, you may even have some new faces in your garden. One special winter visitor is the Waxwing. This bird flies over from Scandinavia to find food, sometimes in quite large numbers. Keep an eye out for them gathered in small-to-medium flocks in Rowan or Hawthorn Trees. There are plenty others to be found; including goldfinches, long-tailed tits, blackbirds, woodpeckers and more.
The acrobatic long-tailed tits are great fun to watch – look for them in hedgerows, bushes and low trees
What wildlife have you seen in your area? Let us know in the comments below!
On Thursday I met with some members of the Portmoak Paths Group to find out a bit about the work they are doing. We went to the paths on the hillside above Kinnesswood with the intention of de-berming some of the paths. Sharing the paths with the many walkers, joggers and cyclists are also some cattle. The intensive use of these paths combined with the heavy footfall of the cattle has resulted in trench-like paths with banks on either side. This creates small gulleys in which streams are formed after any rainfall, further eroding the paths.
Removing the banked sides of the paths and filling in the trenches had the effect of widening the paths and allowing water to flow off rather than along it. The result should be a reduced rate of erosion, less standing water (and therefore less mud) and paths that are easier to walk along.
In addition to the levelling out of paths the group also remove encroaching gorse and brush, cut back vegetation and carry out maintenance on a variety of paths in the area. There is always more to be done, as the path maintenance is an on-going but rewarding effort.
If you would like to join the Portmoak Paths Group, they would love to hear from you! They tend to meet every Thursday at 14.00 in the public car park in Kinnesswood (near to Portmoak Primary School). To get involved contact Greenspace Ranger Calum Bachell at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are some hidden gems within our countryside sites. At Barnhill, within Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park, there are some old hay-meadows hidden in the woodland. Over the last several years these meadows have been left unmaintained – almost forgotten and now overgrown. Together with the Kinnoull Hill Woodland Group we have plans to clear the meadows and plant some wildflowers, adding a more plant diversity to the area – turning near-forgotten grasslands into species-rich meadows.
One of the Barnhill meadows
Within these meadows we found several fruit trees, which had been planted to celebrate the millennium. These trees are each surrounded by a cage from when they were planted, to protect the young trees from grazing animals like deer and rabbits. Whilst these cages were initially useful for keeping out the grazers, the trees have grown too large for rabbits to damage, and tall enough that deer can reach regardless of a cage.
Volunteer Jane removing vegetation
Volunteer David pruning a fruit tree
Ranger Calum removing the wire cages
On Saturday 6th October we started the process of bringing life back to the meadows. The first step was to open up the cages surrounding the trees. Once these cages were opened up we could access the vegetation that had been swamping the trees. As the volunteers cleared the overgrown vegetation and pruned back some of the branches from the fruit trees, the Community Greenspace Horticultural Modern Apprentice Adam was also able to prune back some of the surrounding Hawthorn trees to improve access to the meadow.
There are upcoming volunteer days planned within the Barnhill meadows on Kinnoull Hill. Would you be interested in joining? To find out more contact Greenspace Ranger Calum Bachell at email@example.com or 01738 476792
Did you know that this week (24th-30th September) is Red Squirrel Awareness Week?
Perth and Kinross can be a great place for spotting these amazing creatures. From Kinnoull Hill in Perth to the Den o’ Alyth or the Black Spout Woods, many of our countryside sites are home to the Red Squirrel. Take a walk out in your local forest and you may be lucky enough to see one! Red squirrels tend to build their nests, or dreys, in tall coniferous trees, and are often seen scrambling up the trunks of trees.
A Red Squirrel spotted near Aberfeldy by Greenspace Ranger Calum Bachell
Red squirrels are very busy during the autumn, making this time of year perfect for spotting them. Keep a look out on the forest floor as they collect berries, seeds, nuts and fungi to keep themselves fed through the winter months. Listen for the sound of the squirrels climbing up the trees, chewing on a pine cone, or shouting to another squirrel. You can also often tell if red squirrels are nearby by finding chewed pine cones scattered around the forest floor.
I’m Calum Bachell, and I will be covering the South Perth and Kinross area until January 2019. Having worked as part of the community greenspace team as a graduate trainee in 2015 I was delighted to come back as a greenspace ranger.
Between leaving PKC in 2015 and now I have completed a Master’s degree in Biology at the University of Tromsø; spending 1 year in Tromsø and another 1 ½ years in Svalbard. I focussed on studying nest defence behaviour in eider ducks against arctic foxes and predatory birds. After completion of my degree I worked a field season for the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, researching and monitoring seabird populations on the west coast of Norway.
My background is largely in ecology and wildlife, having studied a BSc in Ecological Science at The University of Edinburgh between 2010 and 2014. Working now as a Ranger allows me to apply my knowledge and experience in Greenspace sites in Perthshire. Now based back in Scotland I look forward to covering the South Perthshire area, including the incredible Kinnoull Hill, Loch Leven Heritage Trail and other great greenspaces in the area.