Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The way forward.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The way forward.

Photo 01 - torrential rain and hailstones yesterday.
A factual benchmark on which we move forward.
We took a decision last year to take steps to optimise the stocks of fish within the lochs and to this end we now have a programme of events in place to accomplish this goal. Now that stocking of fish is illegal in the Tweed catchment, the only option for improvement of open waters (waters that run into the Tweed) is that of habitat improvement coupled with fish conservation. Our tree planting programme is already underway with hundreds of young Willow whips lining the banks on some of the areas we have selected for improvement. We will also carry out some bank stabilisation work on the Kirkstead burn which widens every year, degrading the habitat for our young stock.
Most of this structural alteration work will be carried out next year but this initial venture will allow us to see how such structures fare over the winter period. We will be following the protocols of the Wild Trout Trust who have considerable experience in this type of work.
In order to give us a baseline for future assessment we have arranged for Tweed Foundation Trout Biologist Kenny Galt to come up to the lochs and electrofish our feeder burns. This baseline will give us a snapshot of our current situation and allow us in the coming years to assess the rate of success of our work. For successful it will undoubtedly be, as the increase in food and creation of suitable habitat can only be to the betterment of fish stocks.
It is however not a quick fix and will require much input from the club membership over the coming years not only to construct but to maintain the improvements. Plastic fishing aside, the lot of the “real” angler must be to embrace such improvements as we are initiating. We must take responsibility for the conservation and optimisation of our fish stocks not only for ourselves but for those who come later, if the art of “real” angling is to be preserved! Plastic fishing being relegated to the arena populated by those with limited understanding of what the word angling means as opined by old Izaak!!
I think it will be very interesting to see what species are found in the burns and the proportions they represent.
Any club member who would like to assist in the event (once the dates are finalised) should get in touch as soon as possible; the provisional dates for the electrofishing are the 26th and the 27th of this month (July). Finalised dates will be made known next week hopefully on Wednesday following a meeting of the Tweed Trout and Grayling Initiative on Tuesday evening which we are to attend.
Our vision of an optimised fishery challenging the skills of “real” thinking anglers moves forward!
Photo 02 - What was left on Tuesday!
A nasty rumour or is it?
I heard this story recently that apparently emanates from a reliable source in the area. It is that several containers of some manner of chemical waste were dumped into the top of St Mary’s loch a`number of years ago. SEPA or whatever acronym they went under at that time when contacted, thought it best to leave them there, as trying to remove them would likely lead to a leak out of whatever chemical was contained within. With today’s technology I think such chemicals if indeed they exist could be removed with minimal leakage. Whatever the chemical, if housed in a steel container will one day leak out! Might it be an old wives tale? Maybe, but this warrants further investigation, because if true, some very serious questions will need to be answered!
Photo 03 - some of the bottles collected.
Message in a bottle
After packing up the rods for the day having an hour or so to spare I took advantage of the very low water levels to have a look around the loch bottom to see if I could roughly map out the population of snails per square metre, having noticed a number last week. It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon an old bottle probably thrown in by a thirsty angler or picnicker in bygone days. The bottle was moulded for a vendor J Turnbull & Son Tower Knowe Hawick. In the course of my work I spend a good deal of time in Hawick and have never come across such a business. Similarly I found two more bottles from Hook Brothers in Hawick again unknown to me. In all I found around twenty bottles in black, green and clear glass from Hawick, Innerleithen, Eastriggs, Edinburgh, Prestonpans, Newcastle and Dalkeith. One very ornate green bottle from Ralston of Edinburgh states that they were purveyors to the king but of what I do not know.
They are probably worth only pence, but to a social scientist they are a valuable source of information giving a frame in time of people’s habits. St Mary’s loch has been a favourite picnic area for probably hundreds of years and as such will undoubtedly contain some very interesting pieces. A local diving club makes an occasional excursion to the loch in search of old bottles and curios and usually come up with some noteworthy examples. However you don’t need to go deep, bottles are constantly washed up into the margins and are there for the taking. So have a look around, you never know what you will find!
Ps met Matt from the Tibbie last night who was doing a spot of lure fishing, and he also had some good fortune finding some replicant lures in as new condition, you saved a few quid there mate! Keep those eyes peeled! Oh and the snails next week hopefully!
You may remember a few weeks back I captured a huge swarm of Bees destined for the lochs (see photo a few weeks ago). They have disappeared with only a few directionless bees left! (see photo 02) I became suspicious that all was not well around a week ago when I noted Bees coming out of the hive and going straight back in. This is not normal behaviour for these industrious insects, every action is usually carried out with a single and unshakeable purpose – the continuation of the colony. The queen had also stopped laying new eggs! It also became apparent that they were not stinging me with their usual resolve!
Photo 04 - Varroa Destructor on a Drone.
I sampled a few Bees and had a look with a magnifying glass and of the four Bees taken, two were found to have the now endemic Beekeepers curse clinging to their abdomens, Varroa Destructor (see photo 04). This mite has decimated Honeybees worldwide sucking the life (blood) out of Honeybees and suspected of being one of the causes of a relatively new phenomenon and potentially more harmful malady - Colony Collapse Disorder, which causes the Bees to lose their social structure and cohesion and disappear inevitably to die! Unfortunately this is happening on a catastrophic scale but it’s when it happens on a personal level that it really hits hard!
This could have been a feral swarm, unlikely however as most have now been eradicated by the mite and CCD, more likely an untreated colony from the apiary of an aberrant beekeeper. This is the curse that threatens the future of the Honeybee and places in severe jeopardy the future of much of our food production! Here’s hoping that the scientists can overcome this cataclysm in apiculture soon for all our sakes! Compare the photo below with the earlier one 15,000 Bees to 30 in an instant! The honey crop this year is shaping up to be poor due to the very disappointing summer widely predicted earlier as a “barbeque summer”!
Continuing on the theme of destructive pests, which are of no use to righteous society. I must confess to experiencing not a small amount of delight on hearing of the demise of the scurrilous tabloid the News of the World
This right wing rag, the mouthpiece of Thatcherite press baron Rupert Murdoch, degraded and tarnished the reputations of decent, responsible and law abiding journalists everywhere. The archetype of the gutter press now exposed for the public to see in all its shameful glory! Good riddance to bad rubbish, there will be no tears shed here!

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