Scottish Invasive Species Initative

Invasive Species are a tricky thing in Tayside. There is a multitude of different invasive species and they all come with different challenges. It is very difficult to conquer these without a catchment wide approach and large amount of parties working together to tackle it.

Invasive species alter our natural environment, they out-compete other native species and dominate areas, creating habitats which don’t provide the diversity our wildlife need to sustain themselves and their populations.

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Himalayan Balsam – An Invasive Species

The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative was covered on BBC Landward recently. This is a project funded over the next 3 years to tackle invasive species within several areas including Tayside.

There are training and volunteering opportunities within it find out more information here:  https://www.invasivespecies.scot/about-us.

These are great skills to develop for those who are part of the groups we support or lead and also for those looking to get involved in the land management sector.

 

 

Winter Wildlife

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

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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.

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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!

 

Barnhill Meadows – Tree cage clearing

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.

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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.

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 cbachell@pkc.gov.uk or 01738 476792

Red Squirrel Awareness Week

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.

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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.

Unfortunately red squirrel sightings are becoming increasingly rare in some areas, with the spread of grey squirrels, but you can register your squirrel sightings with Saving Scottish Red Squirrels and follow local sightings and discussions on the Red Squirrels in Perth and Kinross Facebook page

Can Aberfeldy become a Dementia Friendly town?

Perth and Kinross Council Community Greenspace ranger and Breadalabane Community Library attended the community workshop about making a Dementia Friendly Aberfeldy.

This working partnership used this event to launch the ten week block of dementia friendly sessions, for early spring 2019.  The theme is life cycles, looking at Butterflies and plant life cycles.  These sessions will be open to all and will be a mix of indoor and outdoor time, with time for a cuppa and chat.

The event was very inspiring and full of use full tips, which we and other organisations will be taking.  So if you have any ideas or suggestions how to make Aberfeldy’s greenspaces dementia friendly and therefore friendly to all please do get in touch, jgrant@pkc.gov.uk .

For those interested in who else was there please see the Facebook write up, below.

Aberfeldy Community Council

Dementia Friendly Aberfeldy Launch Event
The purpose of the event was to establish if there was appetite within the community for Aberfeldy to work towards Dementia-Friendly status.
The event was well attended with 72 people taking part, including speakers.
There were essentially two parts to the event. The first part explored already established dementia–friendly communities nationally and internationally. The second, a Market Stall section that functioned as folk were gathering, but which was set up the whole time, in which 16 organisations were able to show and tell their work in this area.
There was clear support for taking the concept of Dementia-Friendly Aberfeldy forward and the next steps were outlined by Janette Barrie.
If interested in supporting the group, please get in touch via the e-mail address
janette.dfag@gmail.com

Organisations and Contact Info (no particular order):
• The Care and Wellbeing Co-operative – Helping shape care in rural Perthshire
www.thecareandwellbeing.coop
Ph: 07548 257 436 e-mail hello@thecareandwellbeing.coop
• Alzheimer Scotland – Action on Dementia.
www.alzscot.org
Freephone: 0808 808 3000 – e-mail: helpline@alzscot.org
• The Home Safety Partnership (NHS Tayside, PKC, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Scottish Police, Perthshire Housing, PKAVS, Age Scotland) contact Carolyn Wilson E-mail: carolynwilson@nhs.net Tel: 01738 473146
• Perth and Kinross Healthy Communities – contact Audra Webster for the North Perthshire Locality. E-mail audrawebster@nhs.net Mob: 07896 280 852
• The Birks Cinema Screen Memories Project – resuming Soon – E-mail: birkscommunity@gmail.com
• The Birks Cinema Adult Health and Well Being Activities :
Chair Based Exercise – Mondays 11.15-12.00 am – with Emma Burtles
Craic ‘n’ Craft Thursday from 2-4 pm for a cup of tea, craic and craft
Second Sunday of the month 3pm Afternoon tea and singalong
More info: from Fiona 07990 834 092 www.birkscinema.co.uk
• Start Active, Stay Active: www.bit.ly/startactive
• Stride for Life Health Walks – live active Wellbeing – www.liveactive.co.uk
Contact Colin Melville camelville@liveactive.co.uk Ph: 01738 454 628 – Walks established in Kinross, Crieff, Alyth, North Muirton, Birnam, Bankfoot, Stanley …. Aberfeldy next?
• Kirrie Connections: The Dementia Friendly Kirremuir Project. www.kirrieconnections.com
E-mail: info@kirrieconnections.com Phone: 01575 573 805
• PKAVS Thirds Sector and Volunteering Hubs – Third Sector Interface for Perth & Kinross (TSI)
www.thirdsectorpk.org.uk E-mail info@thirdsectorpk.org.uk Ph: 01738 567 076
(PKAVS = Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service Ltd. It is a registered Charity)
• Paths for All – supporting a network of Health Walk groups across Scotland
www.pathsforall.org.uk E-mail: info@pathsforall.ork.uk Ph: 01259 218 888
• Live active Wellbeing – Make the First Move – advice and support
www.liveactive.co.uk Active Community Team Tel: 01738 454 616
Activity Referral Coordinators Tel: 01738 454660
General Wellbeing Enquiries E-mail wellbeing@liveactive.co.uk
• PKAVS Carers Hub – www.pkavscarershub.org.uk Ph: 01738 452 214 E-mail caretelesupport@pkavs.org.uk
• Wellbeing Support Team Aberfeldy Ph: 01887 822462 www.pkc.gov.uk/mentalhealth
• The Home Straight – Independent Living Solutions for older people
www.thehomestraight.org.uk Call: 07840 544 420 E-mail thehomestraightscotland@gmail.com
• Happy Highlanders For partners, carers or befrienders of someone suffering from Dementia
Contacts: Margaret Hamilton (Chair) 01796 470 360 or Linda Crookston (Vice Chair) 01796 482 724 or Linda Thomson (Secretary) 01738 787 425

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New Temporary Ranger for South Perth and Kinross

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.

Rattray Fun with Nature event.

Community Greenspace recently attended the family fun with nature event at Rattray primary school. The event was used to promote the fantastic parks and open spaces which are in the area. In particular the Loon Braes which is less than five minutes walk form the event. Greenspace Rangers Alistair and Joanna had a range of activities on offer including pond dipping with mini-beasts from the Loon Braes pond, scavenger hunts plus animal mask making. Over 130 adults and children visited the stall and the rangers were able to engage and explain the importance of our greenspaces for both wildlife and recreation.

The event was run in conjunction with community learning and included a visit from the wild about Scotland bus and visitors enjoyed a free nature themed lunch.

Sawing Saplings with the School

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Pupil Removing one of the saplings

Every Tuesday a group come out from Crieff High School to help manage the woodland and park sites around the town. Whilst the group find the school environment a struggle they thrive in practical and outdoor activities. They are learning and developing skills that hopefully will assist them in getting in to training  and eventually a career in the future.

Recently the group were up the Knock carrying out some heathland management.  Using  loppers and saws the group were cutting any saplings or scrub that was developing within the heathland.

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Scleroderma citrinum Pers. – Common Earthball Found while working

 

The reason that we remove the saplings is because if we didn’t we would lose the heathland as it would turn in to woodland eventually. Heathland is a Biodiveristy Action plan priority habitat and supports a wide range of wildlife such as the earth ball seen in the picture to the left that the group discovered while carrying out the task.

 

By carrying out the brilliant work that the group do, they are learning about different habitats, the importance of those habitats and why sometimes we need to prevent natural succession to protect them  and also about the wildlife within those habitats. They are also assisting Community Greenspace achieve objectives and helping to keep the sites maintained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUTTERYBANK COMMUNITY WOODLAND AWARD 2017

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As a result of a visit from Scotland’s Finest Woods in May, judges have recognised the development of Butterybank Community Woodland.  Forward Coupar Angus supports the development of the woodland which was launched in December 2015 and since then about 800 trees have been planted by the Coupar Angus community. Butterybank facilities have been recently upgraded by the installation of an information panel, bench and picnic tables, courtesy of grant support from Perth & Kinross Council and Tesco. The woodland has been planted with a variety of species including oak rowan birch hazel hawthorn holly dogwood western hemlock and spruce. Several memorial trees have also been recently planted.

Butterybank was awarded a Commendation Plaque and Certificate in the Small Woodland Category competition run by Scotland’s Finest Woods. Project Convener Iain Bentley and volunteer Rona McKinnon were presented with the award by Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy. The event was held in the Scottish Government Pavilion at the Royal Highland Show and was supported by the Forestry Commission.

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Judges Penny Cousins and Douglas Wirrall commented ‘We enjoyed the opportunity to visit a woodland in the early stage of establishment and would very much like to re-visit the site in a few years’ time to see how it has progressed. The Butterybank Community Woodland group are to be commended on their vision and perseverance in bringing into being a completely new woodland on the edge of town that has the potential to provide a greatly valued and much used resource for the local community. The concept is inspirational and has been driven forward by a strong and committed leadership team’

A Butterybank spokesperson commented ‘This unexpected and prestigious award is particularly encouraging for the group who have led the community project, especially since it comes from without the town and from woodland specialists. The feedback from the judges was very constructive in helping us plan ahead towards a sustainable management plan. We look forward to installing the cherry wood plaque in the woodland soon’.

Iain Bentley and Rona McKinnon are shown pictured with the awards in the pavilion after the award ceremony and also on Butterybank along with volunteer Bill Ronald.