On 5th December a group of 20 volunteers – both members of the pubic and council employees – gathered to plant 88 trees up at Viewlands Park in Perth. We were lucky with the weather as a window of relatively rain-free opportunity was open to us for the hour and a half we were there. It’s surprising how quickly you can plant that many whips with a good few hands to the task, and makes you think what a difference can be made while having fun out in the fresh air. Now we just have to hope that they will thrive in time and give all the good things: beautiful foliage, cleaner air, habitat for fellow creatures, and extra carbon sink in these times of climate uncertainty.
By the end, a steaming cuppa and a biccy were welcome rewards!
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
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
I started working with the Community Greenspace team in mid-January, after studying Ecological Science at Edinburgh University. Within my first month I had managed to visit many of the countryside sites in Perth & Kinross (some of which were hidden under several inches of snow), walked a few of the core paths and got knee-deep in a pond in Blairgowrie with the conservation volunteers.
I was fortunate enough to be involved in several exciting projects over the last few months. This included photographing and grading some of the core path networks (sometimes accompanied by my own ‘volunteer’ – Sula), giving a hand in the amphibians in drains project with TayARG, helping with the salmon in the classroom, and creating this blog to promote and recognise volunteering with Community Greenspace.
Some of the most rewarding and enjoyable work that I was able to do involved working alongside the conservation volunteers – whether it was emptying tree-cages in Black Spout woods, Pitlochry, clearing out ponds in Blairgowrie for amphibians, planting with local bloom groups, or beech tree pulling on Kinnoull hill, Perth. I found the volunteers were very eager, committed and overall really nice people to work alongside.
I was lucky enough to get opportunities to get my camera out, not only letting me get some good photos but allowing me to hide on the other side of the lens!
Now that my contract with the council has ended I am moving to Tromsø in northern Norway to study for a masters degree. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working here, and no doubt the experience gained will prove to be invaluable further down the line.
Today we have a guest post from a local conservation volunteer group based in the Dunkeld & Birnam area:
This is the third year we have been involved in removing H. Balsam in the Birnam/Dunkeld area. With the cooperation of landowners, our operations have been centred on the Birnam Oak woodland but have involved outcrops 800m or more upstream and downstream.
Our group is currently seven strong, but we would like to see more people involved more regularly and extend our operation to take in areas further up the Tay valley. Pulling balsam in the Birnam Dunkeld area is underway again and there is no doubt that it is starting to have an effect.
Heavy balsam growth around the Birnam Oak
Slashing thick growth at mouth of the River Braan
The alien plant population is certainly on the decrease, but there is much more to be done. Hopefully we will extend operations as far as the Dalguise and Balinluig areas this year, and there is hope that our Sustrans connection will see people pulling balsam in the Perth area as well. Some of us are out every day so there is every chance that we can fit in with your own availability.
On Thursday 14th May Pitlochry Paths Group carried out some work at the Pitlochry Recreation Ground car park, joined by Greenspace Ranger Jeannie Grant. Pitlochry Rec is a fantastic park with a play area, football pitches, skatepark, terraces and a pavillion, but unfortunately the car park was getting a bit overgrown.
It was important that gloves were worn during this task as many of the bushes had sharp thorns, making it quite difficult to deal with. Although the bushes were being cut back to only 1 foot from the road edge, it was amazing how much plant material was eventually removed. The cuttings were placed into a couple of piles to be collected by the council afterwards, and the dust and debris was swept up too. There was quite a significant difference made over the morning – allowing everyone to leave quite satisfied with their work.
Pitlochry Paths Group are a relatively new group, formed in 2014 and would welcome new members. Their goals are to improve and maintain the variety of path networks in and around Pitlochry. The group meet every other Thursday; for information on how to join please email Councillor Kate Howie at: firstname.lastname@example.org