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Welcome to IFLI's Special Inner Forth Festival September 2015 eNewsletter

In this issue:

  • IFLI sails into Inner Forth Festival!
  • Meadow Conference inspires across Scotland and beyond
  • Waders put on fine displays for ID workshop
  • Help turn the tide on marine litter
  • Time in their hands...
  • A fitting finale
  • Walk (some of) the Fife Coast Path with us
  • Bats at the Palace
  • Action for Nature project blossoming
  • Two new roles for Training Tomorrow's Talent
  • IFLI artist at large in the Inner Forth
  • What’s on!

IFLI sails into Inner Forth Festival!


Photo by David Palmar/

The Inner Forth Festival got off to a fantastic start on our Maid of the Forth trip, which took over 100 people on a cruise up and down the estuary from the Forth Bridges to Kincardine Bridge and back, looking to shore at some of IFLI’s 50 projects from a new perspective.  

MPs, MSPs and Councillors from all four local authority areas that surround the upper river – Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire and Fife, were invited to help celebrate the history, wildlife and people of the fantastic landscape they share – the Inner Forth. They were joined by nearly 100 other people involved with IFLI – including volunteers, supporters, partners and representatives from the many charities and organisations that have worked together to hold the very first Inner Forth Festival. Nearly half of them were the lucky enewsletter subscribers who took part in a draw for places on the boat. They heard from local experts about the vitally important wildlife and history of the area, and how working together with decision-makers and local communities, IFLI aims to protect and celebrate this important heritage for the future.

Highlights of the trip included a pair of seals spotted on a buoy in the middle of the river, sailing right in to Charlestown harbour to view the limekilns, and a nail-biting few minutes when the intrepid captain, with inches to spare, took the boat right under the Kincardine Bridge so that we could view the Kennetpans project. Our thanks to everyone who helped make the trip possible, and of course to everyone who came along. 

Meadow Conference inspires across Scotland and beyond

Delegates hear from Leigh Biagi of On the Verge. Photo by Duncan Clark

Across Scotland (and the UK) there are many projects aiming to establish or manage wildflower areas. In fact there are a number of IFLI projects aiming to do just that, including Kinneil Foreshore, Valleyfield Woodlands and Grangepans Meadows. Reasons include improving biodiversity, community benefit, and saving both money and carbon.
Earlier this month, as part of the Inner Forth Festival,  IFLI teamed up with On the Verge, Stirling Council and Buglife to run the Inspiring Meadows Conference, to give people an opportunity to learn from experienced wildflower meadow managers, scientists and community groups, and to hear about successful projects. Speakers covered topics including site preparation, seed selection, site management and potential savings.
The event was free, and open to anyone with an interest in the creation or better management of wildflower areas. The response was amazing, and the event was fully booked months before the day,  showing that there really is a need and a demand for more knowledge sharing in this area. Nearly 100 people, including representatives from over half the Scottish local authorities, land managers, environmental organisations and community groups came on the day to hear from eight different speakers with a huge range of knowledge and experience in the field (no pun intended!)
If you are interested in finding out more about wildflower meadow management we have uploaded all the presentations and case studies from the day onto the event webpage, along with the programme, speaker profiles and a delegate list.

Waders put on fine displays for ID workshop

The group get to grips with wader ID. Photo by Kate Fuller/IFLI

Last Saturday's Distance Wading Bird workshop at Blackness and Kinneil was a great success, despite less than summery weather!. The event was lead by local expert David Bryant, who possesses an uncanny ability for picking out tiny grey blobs in the distance, naming them and sharing numerous facts about their diet, migration pattern, behaviour and habitat.
There was a great variety of attendees, all with different levels of knowledge and experience. David was very informative and encouraging and the group recorded a total of 33 species, including a curlew sandpiper at Kinneil, golden plover, great crested grebe and turnstone (some of which still had their summer plumage which manages to be strikingly beautiful and perfectly camouflaged all at the same time).
Keep an eye on the IFLI website for similar events in the future, including the Migrant Wader ID workshop on 7 November. Please email if you’d like to get involved.

Help turn the tide on marine litter


There are still loads of great activities to come for the Inner Forth Festival! For example IFLI has joined forces with the Marine Conservation Society to hold a clean up as part of the Great British Beach Clean at the beach in Limekilns, Fife on Monday 21 September at 10am.
The event is part of Beachwatch, the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) beach clean and litter survey which aims to highlight the issues of beach litter around the UK’s coastline. IFLI and MCS are organising it in partnership with the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.
Kate Fuller, IFLI Community Engagement Officer, says “We would like to see more volunteers than ever before lend a hand to make this latest clean of Limekilns beach in Fife the biggest yet. The local community regularly remove litter from the beach, and this is a great opportunity for the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative and other local volunteers to show support for keeping this fantastic spot on the Forth coast safe and clean for everyone. The Inner Forth Landscape Initiative is all about celebrating and enhancing the landscape of the Inner Forth estuary and we encourage local people to come and join us for this beach clean.”
Catherine Gemmel, Marine Conservation Society’s Scotland Conservation Officer, added:  “The tide of litter washing up on our shores is not just unpleasant to look at, it can harm and even kill some of our best-loved marine wildlife. Over 170 species including seabirds, turtles and whales have mistaken marine litter for food and actually eaten it, which in many cases has resulted in starvation, poisoning and ultimately a slow, painful death. Plastic packaging and discarded fishing nets also injure, entangle and drown some of Britain’s favourite marine animals, including seals and dolphins.”
MCS surveys have recorded a steady increase in the amount of beach litter since 1994. The four main sources of litter found on UK beaches come from the public, fishing, sanitary waste (particularly cotton bud sticks) and shipping.
During the beach clean we will be surveying the litter and all results will be reported back to the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch survey. MCS Beachwatch results are vital in turning the tide on litter. They have helped influence changes to laws on the disposing of waste at sea, and resulted in investment in better sewage treatment at the coast. Local beach cleans like the one at all help towards highlighting this serious issue.
Anyone wanting to take part in the clean up at can find out more by contacting Kate Fuller by emailing or calling 01324 831 568 or visit or

Time in their hands...

Pottery shards found by volunteers at an IFLI-led dig.  Photo by Dr Kirsty McAlister
Also as part of the Inner Forth Festival, Dr David Clarke will be giving a talk about Archaeology and Artefacts in Falkirk later this month. David had the fantastic job of Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Scotland, and is a specialist in Scottish and European archaeology. We are delighted that he has agreed to give this talk, as he is a highly respected expert in early medieval archaeology, and a fascinating speaker on the subject.

David’s talk will focus on the archaeology of the Forth area and its history, through the study of objects and artefacts. He’ll look at some of the area’s most important archaeological finds and discuss how archaeologists have studied them, and what they can tell us about the past.

The free talk will be held in the elegant surroundings of Callendar House at 7pm on Tuesday 22 September. Refreshments will be provided. Spaces are limited so places must be booked in advance by calling 01324 831568 or by emailing

A fitting finale!


Clackmannan Tower. Photo by Historic Scotland

The finale to the Inner Forth Festival will be an action-packed two-day family Heritage Weekend based around Clackmannan Tower on 26-27 September. Activities will include a rare chance to tour the inside of the tower with Historic Scotland as part of Doors Open Days; exhibitions about the Clackmannanshire Waggonways and the new RSPB Black Devon Wetland Nature Reserve; children’s fun ceramics workshops with potter Lorraine Robson; waggonways walks; a chance to try some archaeological research techniques: children’s wildlife activities with the RSPB, and a family treasure trail from the Town Hall to the tower. Refreshments will be available at the Town Hall.

All the activities are free, and everyone is welcome! You will need to book for the tower tours, the archaeological workshops and the ceramics activities, by contacting us at, tel 01324 831568.

Walk (some of) the Fife Coast Path with us

A glorious view from the Fife Coast Path at Culross across the Inner Forth estuary. Photo David Palmar/ 
The first section of the Fife Coast Path goes from Kincardine to Limekilns, and offers walkers the chance to get up close to the Inner Forth landscape, with its amazing landscape and history. IFLI has teamed up with Fife Coast and Countryside Ranger Derek Abbott, who is an expert on the wildlife and heritage of the area, to lead this free 11-mile walk on 28 September.

We will walk the route in reverse, passing Torry Bay, a real wildlife hotspot at this time of year, through Charlestown, where you can see the famous limekilns and Lord Elgin’s model village, and then past the historic burgh of Culross, before ending beneath the dramatic Kincardine Bridge.

We will meet at Walker Street Car Park in Kincardine at 10am and be taken by minibus to Limekilns. If you don’t want to do the whole 11 miles there are opportunities to leave the walk and take a regular bus back to Kincardine from Cairneyhill, High Valleyfield or Culross. We anticipate returning to Kincardine by 4pm. Bring a packed lunch for a picnic by the shore. For more information and to book your place contact Sue Walker,, tel 01324 831568.

Bats at the Palace


Soprano pipistrelle bat. Photo by RSPB Images

Although the influential families that built and lived in Culross Palace in Fife are long gone, there are still some very important residents staying in this historic 17th century building. On 29 September there’s a chance to meet some of them, as we get together with the Fife and Kinross Bat Group, and Fife Nature, to host a free bat walk and talk in and around this historic building.
The event will start with a short introduction to bats in the Palace itself, thanks to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which now owns and cares for the property. Bats are a really important part of our natural heritage, and they, and their roosts, are protected by law, just as much as the building itself is!  Guests will then head out into the night with bat experts Johanna Willi of Fife Nature, and Richard Smith, of Fife and Kinross Bat Group, armed with bat detectors to discover some of the fascinating species that hunt around the Palace at night. Contrary to popular myths, they are hunting for midges, mosquitoes and moths, rather than blood – and are very much our friends rather than foes.
Like all IFLI events the evening is free. It will start at 8pm at Culross Palace, in Fife, on Tuesday 29 September. Booking is advisable as places are limited. Please wear appropriate footwear, dress warmly and bring a torch if you have one. Contact Sue Walker, 01324 831568, email for more information and to book your place.

In other news...


Action for Nature project blossoming

Apple blossom. Photo by Brian Fagan
As part of the IFLI Action for Nature project, Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT) have been concentrating on orchards for 2015.  Orchards are a wonderful but sadly diminishing resource, with many of the small orchards in our traditional growing areas of the Forth Valley and Clyde Valley being replaced by commercial orchards in England or Europe.

So far, six primary schools in the IFLI area have been involved in the project, receiving their free School Orchard pack and teacher training from Forth Valley Orchards. We are hoping to work with another 24 schools and will be contacting them in the next few weeks, ready for the start of the tree planting season in late October.

Each School Orchard pack contains five apples trees, along with all the resources needed to plan, plant and look after the orchard. Included in the pack is advice on all aspects of orchard management and maintenance, as well as a Teachers Resource Pack which shows how orchards can be used in the classroom for all areas of the curriculum.

Funding has been received from Scottish Natural Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative and CSGNT. Forth Valley Orchards Initiative is providing valuable assistance to the project, and will be running training courses on orchard management over the summer and autumn.

For more information on the campaign see CSGNT’s website: For more information on IFLI, go to: and for details on the training events, go to:

Two new roles for Training Tomorrow's Talent

Paul Barclay (l) and Adam Ross - our new Training Tomorrow's Talent team

As part of IFLI’s Training Tomorrow’s Talent project we are delighted to have two new posts.  Adam Ross joins the IFLI team as our new Wildlife Recording Assistant, and we welcome back Paul Barclay as our new Historic and Natural Environment Assistant. Adam will be with us for the next 18 months, with Paul spending the next nine months with the team. We thought they might like to introduce themselves to you...
Adam Ross
Hi. I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new Wildlife Recording Assistant for the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative. I’m very excited about this opportunity and looking forward to discovering new project sites, habitats and species as well as meeting new people.
I was previously working as a Ranger for the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, which really enhanced my knowledge and passion for nature.  The habitats of the Inner Forth are quite different to those found in the National Park but I’m enjoying the new challenges and experiences. I’m improving my ability to distinguish between dunlin and knot as they scuttle across the mudflats and the background noise of curlews provides a unique atmosphere during office time. It’s quite a comforting sound to me, having grown up beside the sea on the north-east coast of Scotland.

I’m currently getting to grips with the local project sites where I will be creating wildlife records on a regular basis as part of the Forth Nature Counts project. My job will involve doing survey walks with volunteers in order to map out the biodiversity that surrounds us in the Inner Forth area. If that sounds like something you would like to get involved with then please email me at and I’ll let you know how to participate. The more people who take part, the better the results will be so whether you’re an expert or a complete novice, we’d love to hear from you.

Paul Barclay
It was a day that will go down in history... well my personal history anyway! On 21 August I stopped being IFLI’s Wildlife Recording Assistant and started being IFLI’s Historic and Natural Environment Assistant.  It means a new desk, a new name badge and a completely new outlook on the Inner Forth. 

I’ve got a background in history, having studied it with the Open University. Wildlife and wildlife recording are something I discovered a passion for later in life - so it’s fantastic to get the chance to put my learning into practice.

My time here for the next few months will be split into placements with various different members of the IFLI team so hopefully I’ll get a chance to learn from all of them. First up is working with our Communications Officer, Sue Walker, for the duration of the IFLI Inner Forth Festival.  This has been a bit of a baptism of fire, with a whirl of events.  The dark arts of press releases, communication and poster design are all new to me and it’s been a fantastic learning opportunity.  I’m really looking forward to the next few months and all the new experiences they’ll bring.

IFLI artist at large on the Inner Forth

Darren paints lapwings direct from life at Kinneil Lagoons. Photo Sue Walker

Our Artist-in-Residence Darren Woodhead is now working at IFLI sites all around the Inner Forth, capturing the landscape, wildlife and history of this unique area through his beautiful paintings. Last week he was at Kinneil Lagoons, where he was making studies of the lapwings that flock to the mudflats and wetlands to feed and roost. These gorgeous waders, with their jewel-bright purple and green plumage and signature crests, used to be a common sight, but are sadly now in serious decline. The Forth estuary is a vital refuge for them, and we hope that Darren’s stunning paintings of them will help inspire people to value and protect these precious birds.

Darren will be involved in a number of IFLI events over the coming months, so keep checking our events calendar, Twitter or Facebook page to find out when you can come and see him in action.

What’s on!
Of course just because the festival finishes at the end of September, it doesn't mean there are no more free IFLI events for you to enjoy!

Details of all our events for the coming months can be found on the IFLI website Events Calendar. Here is a taste of what's coming up in the next few weeks...

13 October, 10am - 12 noon
Family Wildlife Adventure
Black Devon Wetlands Nature Reserve
A guided walk for families with lots of games and activities for children. Booking essential. Please email, or telephone 01324 831568.
15 October, 4.30 - 6.30pm
Evening Wildlife Walk
Black Devon Wetlands Nature Reserve
A dusk walk looking for evening wildlife.  For more information and to book your place, please contact Sue Walker on 01324 831568 or at
28 October, 11am - 9pm
Memories of Mining Exhibition
High Valleyfield Community Centre
A community-led exhibition to highlight the rich mining heritage of High Valleyfield. Learn about working conditions and pay, political activities and activism, the family unit, social lives, cultural activities and the Valleyfield Disaster of 1939.
  • View historic photos of local people and places to see how times have changed
  • Discover plans of old mine workings
  • Hear testimonies from people who worked in the coal industry or grew up in families which did
  • Watch new and old footage about mining in the area
  • See artefacts and objects linked to the town's mining past
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