Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Predators on the lochs

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Predators on the lochs

Photo 01 - a small goosander family yesterday.
Predators on the lochs
Reports come in all year round about the numbers of predatory birds spotted on the lochs. The contingent comprises of Cormorant, Heron and the saw billed ducks Merganser, and Goosander. The Osprey is excluded from this discourse due to their special status and low number.
These predators now much increased in number according to anecdotal reports received by us from 2005 onwards. Such predators can take a heavy toll on young fish (goosander typically take prey from 2-6 inches but for Cormorants the range is much larger as is the daily amount consumed) and are an added problem in habitat management we could do without!The number reported to us appears to be increasing. This increase is also reflected by statutory bodies in their own studies. Statutory bodies are reluctant to grant licences to cull these predators with licences being granted invariably for the protection of young salmon
The Tweed Commission were granted a licence to cull 80 Goosander and 15 Cormorant for the year used to cull birds in protection of the smolt run. Areas such as St Mary’s Loch being much lower in economic status receiving scant attention. We have no firm figures for the number and species of fish predated but I would suggest one can safely assume that the annual appearance of all these predators is not due to the stunning scenery and that a good living is to be had fishing for our stock of fish! What can we do then to lessen the problem?
In truth probably nothing, we could try and scare birds noted on the lochs but this would probably have no effect and in any case would be completely impractical. In the case of Cormorants whose natural habitat is the sea more work needs to be done to ascertain why they come so far inland. That they are efficient predators of fish is beyond dispute, one need only to look to Loch Leven where a researcher gave the following numbers of fish taken by Cormorants over a 7 month period in 2001 – Brown Trout 41,617 – 128,248, and Rainbow Trout - 830 - 12,454 with fish up to 16 inches being taken clearly showing an unsustainable state of affairs! The mighty Loch Leven once described as the “Wembley “of the angling world is now but a dilapidated park on an inner city housing estate engineered by Cormorants!
Those in favour of maintaining Cormorant numbers point to an analogous state of affairs with the Pike in that both predators clean up diseased and sickly fish. Undoubtedly this is true but Cormorants do not predate the weak and frail exclusively, they are opportunists and will attack whatever is in their line of sight. Even large prey is attacked and many fish later die of the infected lesions inflicted especially by Cormorants. Small populations of these predators could be sustained; it is the huge increase in numbers that cause the imbalance and subsequent over predation. Pike control their own populations Cormorants do not!
Powerful lobby groups such as the RSPB, and statutory bodies such as SNH and others appear to support the current situation of minimal intervention and whilst there is a case for their stance I believe there is a much heftier case for a more objective look and balanced approach to this emotive subject. Lower profile venues such as ours will never realise the headlines generated by Loch Leven but will still suffer the inevitable decline brought about by these predators! If that were not enough the biodiversity of the area being predated by these creatures is put at serious risk! The photo above (01) shows a Goosander family somewhat short of the usual number of offspring of 12 – 14. It is of great concern to many that there is never any middle ground anymore it always has to be one extreme or the other! Doesn’t bode well for the future methinks!
Photo 02 - The exquisite Dog Rose!
Inter club competition.
Our team in this competition consisting of Les and Lawson were fishing on Tuesday night against a team from St Boswells angling club. Although our intrepid fishers managed four Rainbow Trout it was just short of the six managed by the opposition. Yes there were lost Trout on both boats that if landed could have changed the outcome, but the result is based on Trout in the boat at the end of the session. You did well lads, and as ambassadors for the club you did great. Other angling associations are now fully aware that St Mary’s Angling Club is a vibrant and active angling club!
Photo 03 - Matt shows us how its done with a fine 13 pounder!
We were saddened to hear of an accident in which our good friend Richard from Rodono was injured sustaining chest injuries. I spoke with wife Ingrid yesterday and was relieved to hear that Richard is making great progress and may get home today. If you read this Richard we wish you well for a full and speedy recovery, but do try and put your feet up for a while! Oh and thanks for the loan of your ladders last week our painters and the club are most grateful.
Photo 04 - A blaze of useful colour!
Nowadays with our clean and homogenous style of living weeds tend to be regarded as unwanted pests worthy only of removal. But a closer look reveals that it is the destruction of such plants that is partly the reason for the decline of species such as wild Bees, Honey and Bumble Bees! Many of today’s ornate, pretty and vibrantly coloured plants are sterile and worthless to these creatures. So spare a thought for the efficient pollinators on which we rely so heavily for our food production and leave a wildflower area in your garden.
Have a look at the spectacular colour generated by the colonisers of barren ground (photo 03) providing organic enrichment to the soil and valuable pollen and nectar for our apex pollinators Bees. If you missed the most excellent programme “Who killed the honeybee” catch up on the BBC I player on BBC 4.
Photo 05 - A young Blackbird alone but being watched by unseen parents.
Young Birds
There is a good chance you will come across a young bird fresh out of the nest not really any good at flying. Such birds often crash land in unusual places. I'm told that these birds should be left alone unless they are in a place of danger and moved only a short distance from where they were found. Their parents will be aware of their location and will continue to feed them until they become proficient on the wing. There are reports of people mistakenly "helping" these birds only to be attacked by the parents! The one below was found in the course of carrying out my work and was left and sure enough the youngster called for mum and she appeared with a beakful of worms. An hour later the youngster flapped its way into an ornamental bush again tended by its parents. An absolute joy to witness nature first hand!
Ps the Great Tits at the boathouse have fledged unseen by anyone.
Bruce Sandisons new book
I received the following e mail concerning the publication of Bruce’s new book which will be of interest to real anglers everywhere. I have decided to order a copy and will publish a review once I have digested it fully.
"I thought I'd send you a quick email to let you know that 'Lies, Damned Lies and Anglers' by Bruce Sandison is now available and that it recommends your business as an excellent spot for anglers. Sandison's newest title has been well received, Spin Fish Online magazine speaks very highly of the book;
"As ever Sandison amuses, informs and inspires the reader to explore the myriad lochs and rivers of our Scottish home land reminding you, the angler, that the joy of fishing is not necessarily the catching of big fat stockies but the wholeness of fishing in wild and beautiful places..."
There is more information in the press release attached and via the link below.


If you would like to order a copy or receive any further information about 'Lies, Damned Lies and Anglers', please don't hesitate to contact:

Many thanks for your time and very best wishes,


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