Wild Fox

Posted by Monty, Greenspace Ranger

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.

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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.

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Looking towards Vane Hill

 

World Ranger Day – Celebrating and Remembering Rangers Worldwide

The 31st July is World Ranger Day and it is a time for us and for the world to cast our eyes and reflect on the many aspects of ranger work throughout the world.In the past 12 months, 52 Park Rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty (global statistic).  Many die due to accidents; more were killed at the hands of poachers and militia.  Today we take the opportunity to honour and remember them.

We will also take the opportunity to celebrate the bravery, tenacity and dedication of those rangers who give their all in the service of nature, including our six fantastic Greenspace Rangers here in Perth and Kinross.

Our Greenspace Rangers regularly patrol our sites, looking after the environment that you, your family, friends and many, many tourists enjoy.  Our rangers help to maintain our parks, open spaces and our woodlands ensuring that they are safe and enjoyable places for you to your spend time.   Our rangers regularly work with volunteers, schools, Scouts and more, on tasks such as beech pulling, ditch clearing, coppicing and path maintenance.

Without the hard work and dedication of our Greenspace Rangers and those represented by the International Ranger Foundation, our world would look quite different.

Ranger duties vary throughout the world – demonstrated in the film the Thin Green Line.  (Promo here: https://youtu.be/-eM0gSpoDRE)

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More information on our rangers here: https://pkcvolunteers.wordpress.com/about/

More information on World Ranger Day here: http://www.internationalrangers.org/world-ranger-day/

Partnership working to keep our paths clear.

For a few years now there has been a partnership approach between Rannoch Path Group and Ardeonaig Centre to work on the paths in the Rannoch and Tummel area.  The Greenspace Ranger has joined this partnership, by providing tools, expertise and resfreshments.  This has enabled a number of paths in the Rannoch and Tummel area to recieve annual maintenance and improvements over the last three years.

Part of the John Muir Award and their Duke of Ediburgh Gold we asked the participants of Ardeonaig to write a short article on the works they have completed in the area.  They have been quoted saying “Rannoch was great”.  Their summary of what they have done and learnt is as follows;

As part of our DofE Gold Residential, we undertook two days of conservation volunteering with Annie from the Rannoch Path Group and Jeannie, the PKC Community Greenspace Ranger. On the first day, we met at the Lassintulloch forest entrance and set off on the path to MacGregor’s Cave.

There was a lot of bracken growing at the sides, so we used bracken bashers to bruise the stems, which weakens the bracken if repeated over a number of years. We also used loppers to cut back some vegetation which was a trip hazard, as well as some overhanging branches by the stepping stones over the burn.

On the second day we cleared the Hillside Path in Kinloch Rannoch, again using bracken bashers and loppers. We also used bow saws to cut back some fallen trees which were across the path, and a scythe for the long grass. We loved using the tools!

The paths are in a beautiful area, and we hope that people will be able to use them walking side by side rather than just in single file.

Andrew, Guy, Michael and Will

Abernethy Ardeonaig Environment & Conservation DofE Gold Residential

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PKC Conservation Volunteers tackle Himalayan Balsam in Crieff

Greenspace Ranger Richard Armstrong will be leading our Conservation Volunteer task at Lady Mary’s Walk in Crieff, tomorrow – Saturday 4th July. Volunteers will be removing invasive non-native Himalayan Balsam.

If you are joining us for this task, please remember to bring plenty of water and dress appropriately for the task and the weather.

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 * * * UPDATE  07/07/15 * * *
A big thank you to the volunteers who braved the heavy rain on Saturday morning to come out and help clear Lady Mary’s Walk of Himalayan Balsam. Greenspace Ranger Richard Armstrong said  “the task really needed done, so we had to go ahead with it whatever the weather threw at us… and although the weather was quite miserable for the first half of the session, it improved and was actually quite pleasant later in the day and everyone enjoyed it.”

Branston/PKCV/Stagecoach/SSE Bonanza

Four tasks, four lots of volunteers, three sites and too many numbers being listed here in one blog. Not exactly poetry, whereas the quote from one of our Stagecoach volunteers was pure poetry: “Cinnamon swirl at eleven fifty-seven.” It wasn’t relevant to the task but it was poetry. And it showed the contrast between the rationed pleasures of office routine and the enjoyment of getting out there into the wider world.

On Wednesday, 3rd June, volunteers from Branston Potatoes Ltd, Abernethy were joined for the day by two PKCV volunteers. They used “slashers” cut back the encroaching vegetation of over a kilometre of path on St Magdalene’s Hill. This will keep the paths clear enough to allow people to walk along them without getting brushed with wet vegetation, or feeling that they are stuck in a “tunnel effect.” The saw a red squirrel, explored the old powder store and met a blue tit fledgling along the way.

On Friday 5th June Stagecoach staff picked up two bin liners worth of litter from Moncreiffe Island and taught Fergus how to play word games with film titles. This hidden gem of a place, sitting in the middle of the Tay, opposite Tay Street, is a beauty spot again. They found wild garlic and sweet Cecily to try the scent of as well as tasting nettles on their island getaway.

On Friday 12th June SSE completed two tasks on St Magdalene’s hill. The first was to clear a stretch of the right of way from Hilton Wood, (above Craigie, on the way to Calla Fountain) and then in the afternoon to build protective lattices or cages of brushwood over precious oak seedlings to protect them from browsing roe deer. They tasted pignut (no wild boars were harmed in this exercise – it’s a plant) and tried nettles too. They were also treated to catching sight of a great tit visiting a nest box and, a first for Fergus in Perth, a red kite soaring over the top of the hill.

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Further paths works & volunteering in Pitlochry and Aberfeldy

Aberfeldy Tree Trail

Whilst doing the Explorer John Muir Award with the Community Greenspace Ranger, the volunteers have been helping to record the condition of the trees along the Tree Trail in the Birks of Aberfeldy.  The Tree Trail was designed and planted by the Matterson Family (Cluny Gardens) in the early 1960’s.

Birks of Aberfeldy PathsTo date the group has concentrated in maintaining the multiuser path width and removal of competition species to those in the tree trail.  However, over the past two weeks we have been looking at the condition of the trees.  They have been using a variety of information from maps drawn in the 1990’s to records of what trees were given plaques in 2011.  The group is thinking of ways how to collate all the historical data onto one spreadsheet or map.  This has the potential to be developed into a project towards schoolwork or higher education qualification. If interested please contact the Ranger as below.

Pitlochry Path Group start upgrading with SSE funding 

Pitlochry Path Group have been busy filling in application forms for Pitlochry Path upgrades.  They have been successful in gaining a £10000 grant from SSE.  The money will be spent on making a multiuser path from the Pitlochry Dam to the shore of Loch Faskally, new fencing and the group are repairing Lady Dell section of the path.

Today’s task was building up the path at Lady Dell using sandbags and type one materials.  The group split into smaller teams and production lines were created to fill sand bags, laying the bags, back filling and compacting the materials.  Work has not been completed and if you feel like joining in why not contact the Ranger to find out more!

Jeannie Grant
Community Greenspace Ranger
Breadalbane Community Campus, Crieff Road, Aberfeldy, PH15 2DU
Tel – 01887 822 425
Mobile – 07788 190 876

Salmon in the Classroom

Throughout the month of March, children from several schools across Perth & Kinross were given the responsibility of looking after salmon eggs in their classroom. During this period the eggs would hatch into ‘alevins’ – a stage in their life-cycle where they survive entirely off a yolk sac until they are ready to catch their own food. The eggs were very successful this year, with over 95% of the eggs surviving!

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Once the alevins were ready, they were brought to Annaty Burn at Quarrymill to be released. Here they will spend their next two years living mainly off small invertebrates, and avoiding the numerous predators including other fish, otters, heron and kingfisher. Before the salmon could be released, the children were also shown how to do several tests in the river – looking at the clarity, speed and pH of the water. It is important to know that the river isn’t too polluted, otherwise the fish would have little chance to survive. The children released the fish into the burn, watching as they quickly hid under rocks and stones.

In April the children were able to visit the hatchery, where their eggs originated from. Here they were able to see more stages of the salmon life-cycle from the initial eggs to adults. In the hatchery all of the half-million eggs are counted by hand, raised until they are ready to be put in the river, and given the best survival chances possible. The children learned about how fishermen have to be quite clever to catch their salmon, and how they worked to prevent illegal poaching – they especially enjoyed dressing up in the camouflage clothing!

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In June the health of the salmon released into Annaty Burn will be checked by the schools when they go electrofishing. Not as dramatic as it sounds, the fish are stunned using a small electric current and netted. This allows us to see the how well the fish are doing, and see the great difference in size from when they were initially released. The fish are then returned to the water quickly and unharmed.

Have you seen any salmon where you live, or have you ever had any experience fishing?
Let us know in the comments or on our share page.

Path Working at the Birks of Aberfeldy

The Perth and Kinross Conservation volunteers met up with  Jeannie Grant the Highland Area Ranger to carry out some path drainage clearance work on Saturday 9th May at the Birks of Aberfeldy. 

The worst natural thing for paths is water!  Especially water dripping off tree leaves!  To save and protect the paths, a number of different drainage systems are put into place to encourage the water to drain off the path as quickly as possible.  Due to the nature of the site there are a number of cross drains;  so the small group of volunteers managed to clear in the region of thirty drains! 

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Whilst clearing them it was identified that a number of them are needing realignment or minor repairs done to them.  It is slow work but when the drains work, it not only saves the path from further erosion but also is very satisfying.  So watch this space for a cross drain TLC day!

Welcome!

Welcome to the Perth & Kinross Conservation Volunteers blog!

This isn’t just a place for us to share our stories and events with you, but somewhere for you to tell us all about your countryside or volunteering experiences. The blog is run mainly by the Community Greenspace Ranger Service, who organise and run numerous volunteer events across Perth and Kinross throughout the year as well as looking after the Coutryside Sites, such as Kinnoull Hill and the Knock of Crieff.

You can join in too!

If you have an interest in wildlife, the outdoors or you local community why not join in and volunteer with us? Find out more here

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We hope you enjoy following our blog!