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.
On the 6th of September I was set on a journey through to MaCrosty Park in Crieff to help out Alan with the Green Routes to wellbeing. Unfortunately due to the poor weather Green Routes had to be called off.
Despite the weather Alan and I decided to soldier on and started to work on this over grown lade. Although the lade had started to look like more of a jungle than a lade we managed to get quite a lot of work done and managed to get the lade water back to a good flow.
Although the weather was quite miserable I really enjoyed the day.
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!
The Auchterarder Sports and Recreation Path Group have been going from strength to strength with almost a full year worth of tasks now under their belt.
The group were out on the Provost walk again this time starting from the primrose park end and managing the vegetation going along phase two of the walk. We noticed that there was some Himalayan balsam coming from the stream but unfortunately all the seeds had already popped on this. This will be something the group will tackle next year as it is only a small amount and easily manageable.
The group split in to two smaller groups with one group focusing on strimming the edges and the other group cutting back any woody plants or branches along the length.
A special thank you to Bear Scotland who have been very supportive of the group and were able to provide some willing volunteers!
The next focus for the group will be to get out on the paths and figure out what is needing to be done over the next 6 months looking at the wider network above and beyond the improved footpaths.
If you are interested in joining the group on one of the tasks please contact Alan Dorman- firstname.lastname@example.org
Crieff Community Trust Path group were hard at work again. This time on a section of the Knock Promoted Path running along the back of the golf course. The path had become severely overgrown with rhododendron and laurel over the years to where it was only passible in single file.
The group decided to take this on and improve it to make it easier for all access takers.
Working away cutting back the rhododendron
They proceeded to hack away at the bushes to original path width leaving the cut material in habitat piles in the open areas next to the path. The next step will be to re-grade the path and take it back to its original width and put some additional path materials down to re-secure the path.
It was a great day and the group had a lot to show for their efforts!
This spring 1,200 wildflower plants were planted on St Magdalene’s Hill to create a wildflower meadow to provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. The plants were kindly donated by the Tay Landscape Partnership and were planted by Perth Brownies, Beavers and Perth High School. Despite the summer drought a good number of plants survived and added beautiful colour to the grassland.
A group from Perth High School who planted the flowers completed the next step by raking off the cut grass to prevent excess nutrients and allow the young plants to push up next spring. The grass was raked onto large tarpaulins and then piled under trees and broom bushes.
After hot chocolate and biscuits, the group finished by litter picking the main path to the summit and back to the car park.
A big thanks to Perth High School for their help. There is still grass to be raked off so we will be back shortly to finish the job.
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 01738 476792