With so many people stuck at home and taking their daily exercise as locally as possible many paths are seeing more foot traffic than usual. If heading out on a walk please remember to take away or dispose of any litter and to pick up after your dog. Check the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for advice on walking responsibly.
At this time of year lambing is also well underway, so it is particularly important to keep dogs under close control where there may be livestock. Dogs can cause unnecessary worry that may contribute to the premature death of sheep as well as any unborn lambs. If you need to go into a field of sheep, keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel and keep your distance from the animals.
In the video below Bob Barr and Kate Hall share there experiences of dogs worrying sheep in the Lothians.
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
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
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.
Paths for All have launched a new online map that plots the details of the free walks taking place in every local authority in Scotland each week. Health Walks are low–level, safe, and social, they are aimed at people looking to get more active and are a great way of seeing our beautiful county and brilliant greenspaces!
On Wednesday 30th April Community Greenspace said a fond farewell to our colleague Ian Montgomery, who retired from PKC after 21 years service!
Ian was shackled to PKC in 1995. After 10 years working in the Print Office, Ian saw the light and joined the free spirits in the bright outdoors, working as a Countryside Ranger (Greenspace Ranger these days). We are told that colleagues at that time were pretty sceptical – printer ranger – ranger printer? Whilst Ian’s credentials in persecuting the wildlife of P&K in terms of hunting, shooting and fishing were the stuff of legend and never in doubt, how he was going to convert that into becoming a careful curator, nurturing and protecting our flora and fauna as a ranger was clearly a bold step into the unknown.
We now believe that this was part of Ian’s cunning plan – being fully aware of the impact his fishing talents had in the decline of salmon stocks in our Perthshire Rivers and thinking ahead to 2016, he set about replenishing them. Getting school kids to grow new ones in the classroom was the only way forward to secure a lifetime’s supply in retirement. So his plan to get his hands on the Salmon in the Classroom initiative was hatched (forgive the pun) and in his hands has gone from strength to strength with upwards of 1,500 alevins (young salmon) being released. And this year, after all the hard work, this excellent programme is a finalist in the Securing the Future Awards.
So with bags of personality and a passion for the natural world and an ability to communicate with everyone, Ian did become a fully fledged and highly valued member of the team.
Needless to say Ian made a great impression on his ranger colleagues – so much so they were queuing up with tales to tell when Ian decided to finally hang up the hat…
Unfortunately we cannot repeat any of these… we hope that our Comic Book “The Life of Monty” will make up for this, and make you smile as much as he has made all of us smile in the past 21 years.
Being a Greenspace Ranger doesn’t mean that you meet with wildlife every day, but there’s always the off-chance that if you keep your senses aware and your eyes open, you might just get lucky.
Here’s a lovely dog-fox I caught on camera yesterday near Maryburgh, south of Kinross.
As he came across the field towards me, I stood perfectly still. I happened to be downwind of him, with my back to the sun, so he wouldn’t have seen me standing there. He came right across the field in front of me and after I’d taken a couple of photos, I made a deliberate noise to watch his reaction. He stopped and sniffed the air, though I doubt he could smell anything unusual. Nevertheless he turned and trotted unhurriedly back across the way he came. As he passed under the fence at the other side I happened to notice another large fox, perhaps the vixen, too far now for my poor camera skills.
Saying that, I captured this lovely view of Loch Leven with Vane hill just right of centre, around about the same time yesterday.
The Association had received a donation from the Woodland Trust of 420 young native trees which were suitable for planting throughout the site to not only encourage more wildlife but also provide a windbreak around the boundary of the site in the Turfhills area of Kinross.
In addition to the 30 allotment plots, which are in their second season the site also provides a community garden area. The facility is used by local residents including the local children’s gardening club, Kinross High School’s Learning Support Department, the local day centre for older people and the ‘Broke not Broken’ Group who plan to grow food at the site.
To improve the allotments further, the Unpaid Work Team delivered a load of compost for the gardeners’ use and also laid some slabs next to the Association’s main polytunnel to improve access.
Anyone interested in engaging the services of the Unpaid Work Team, (which are free of charge), to carry out tasks for the benefit of the community should complete an application form which can be obtained by telephoning 01738 445793 or 472564 or by e-mailing email@example.com