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In this issue:

Investigating Zetland Park

A weekend of discoveries!  Kirsty McAlister

In May over 40 volunteers got involved in an archaeological project that took place in Zetland Park in Grangemouth, learning skills like geophysical survey, 3D laser scanning, measured drawing and excavation. The team also spoke to literally hundreds of interested passers-by. The sun shone and there was a great atmosphere on site for the entire project!

Zetland Park was gifted to the burgh of Grangemouth in 1880 by the Earl of Zetland. However, it has a much longer history, stretching further back even than the 17thcentury use of the ‘Orchard’, perhaps to the early medieval period when a monastic farm (or ‘Grange’) belonging to Holyrood Abbey may have stood at the site.

The excavation, which took place from 20-23 May, proved very informative. It showed that the ground inside the enclosure was naturally elevated and this, together with its proximity to the Grange Burn, explains why it was chosen as the site of the medieval monastic farm. It was probably partly for reasons of drainage that they dug a large ditch around the enclosure and used the clay from it for the construction of a bank. A small amount of what appears to be 14th/16th century pottery was found in the slumped material found in the bank. Later finds include a stone spindle whorl and an early 17th century tobacco pipe (c1620-1640), along with a considerable amount of 19th-20th century finds, which included whole glass bottles, coins and clay pipes. The glass bottles are already in Grangemouth Heritage Centre, while the rest of the finds were taken away for cleaning and recording. A full report is in production and will be made available as soon as possible.

As well as trying to find out more about the park’s early history, we recorded some of the more recent features too, including the fountain and war memorial. A short film demonstrating the 3D scans of these features will be available shortly.

The project was managed by AOC Archaeology, with support from Falkirk Community Trust, Falkirk Council, the Friends of Zetland Park, and Grangemouth Heritage Trust. A  sincere thanks to you all for making it such a successful and rewarding project!

Fun run success in Bo'ness

Over 100 runners set off round the Bo'ness foreshore course 
Simon Lees

The first May the Forth Fun Run, held in Bo’ness last month, was declared a runaway success by organisers and runners alike. Over 100 people, many of them local, took part in the run, which was was organised by Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI) and local charity The Friends of Kinneil.

The event was free to enter, thanks to the way IFLI is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. All the participants received a unique, hand-made ceramic medal, inspired by the shells and textures of the local coastline, also created by Falkirk potter Susan Wade-French.
With fantastic views over the inner Forth estuary, the run took in woodlands, meadows, coast, part of the John Muir Way and the historic town of Bo’ness. The 3.8 mile route passed three IFLI projects designed to increase the wildlife of the area – Grangepan Meadows, a Buglife project to create a new wildflower meadow beside the John Muir Way, Bo’ness Foreshore Local Nature Reserve, where The Friends of Kinneil Foreshore Group volunteers are working with Falkirk Council to coppice parts of the woodland and plant more wildflowers, and Wildlife Connections, where the RSPB has joined up with the Scottish Railway Preservation Society to plant a wildflower border at the station..
Local running hero Freya Ross, who was fourth British woman home in the London Marathon and has run for Britain in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, started the race and gave out the prizes to the top three men and women. The winners’ ‘podium’ was dominated by one family, with mum Hilary Robinson, daughter Eilidh and son Duncan taking first and second woman and third man respectively. The race was won by David Downey, with Douglas Kenmure second man and Emma Lougheed third woman.  All the winners received hand-thrown plates depicting the bay at Bo’nesss by local Falkirk potter Susan Wade-French.

The run was originally the idea of local businessman Rob Storey, a keen runner himself and owner of Bo’ness Chiropractic and Sports Massage. Rob saw the run as a great way to celebrate and promote the area. As both IFLI and The Friends of Kinneil shared his enthusiasm, and aim to encourage local people and visitors to value Bo’ness’ amazing natural and cultural heritage, we were delighted to be able to work together to make the May the Forth Fun Run a reality. We also had a great deal of help and support from Falkirk Community Trust, which organises the weekly Park Run at Callendar House, and from Falkirk Council. The run was truly a local team effort, with volunteers from the local Boy’s Brigade, The Friends of Kinneil Foreshore Group and the Park Run team coming along to support the event. 

Behind the scenes progress at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands

Numbers of water rail breeding at Black Devon Wetlands have increased/Mike Richards/RSPB Images

It may look quiet on the face of things at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands just now, but rest assured the RSPB is not sitting idle.  A planning application for the new viewing screen, plus paths, boardwalks and enhancements to the wetlands was submitted to Clackmannanshire Council in April, and the RSPB recently received the good news that planning permission has been granted, so over the next few months you should see some massive changes on site.

Breeding bird surveys have also been carried out on site this year. So far the results show three pairs of water rail on site (up from two in 2015) and four-five pairs of grasshopper warblers (again up on 2015).  By carrying out these surveys annually the RSPB can keep track of how nature is doing on site and ensure its management optimises habitats available for the wildlife that makes the Inner Forth special.

Archaeology, art and wildlife at Kennetpans

Inside the warehouse at Kennetpans
Kirsty McAlister/IFLI

There’s an exclusive opportunity to help survey the ruined distillery warehouse at Kennetpans on the weekend of 9-10 July. You could help carry out an archaeological survey with AOC Archaeology, which will involve producing measured drawings, using photogrammetry, and creating a 3D laser scan.

Alternatively, you could team up with Scott Shanks from Buglife to help record all types of nature found around the site or brush-up on your wildlife ID skills. For budding artists, you could also join Mark Kirkham, aka the Edinburgh Sketcher, to record the warehouse and its surroundings in an entirely different way, with pens and pencils.

Built in the early 18th century, Kennetpans was once one the country's largest and most technologically advanced distilleries. It used the innovative Boultoun and Watt steam engine to produce vast quantities of spirit, which was exported far and wide from the purpose-built pier at the site.

Before shipping, the alcohol was stored in a large warehouse behind the main distillery building. The primary focus of IFLI's Wee Dram at Kennetpans project, led by Historic Environment Scotland, is this distillery building, which is undergoing extensive clearance and consolidation to preserve it for future generations.

The idea behind the Kennetpans survey weekend is to find out more about the wider site. The archaeological and nature-based surveys will produce an accurate record of its current condition, which could help with the future management of the site and might allow us to interpret the wider distillery complex more accurately.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact / 01324 831568. Please note that access to the site is restricted so we will be organising transport from a nearby meeting point.

Future Tides celebrates another great year

Some of the children's work on show. Miranda Shephard/RSPB
24 May saw the culmination of the second year of the RSPB’s IFLI Future Tides project, when Deanburn, Park and Riverside primary schools came together to celebrate and share their learning at Alloa Town Hall. Over the past school year the classes have been working separately to discover and explore man-made and natural aspects of the River Forth relating to the past, present and future. They’ve done this both locally, in Bo’ness, Alloa and Stirling, and more widely by visiting Blackness Castle and the nature reserve at RSPB Skinflats.

Miranda Shephard, the RSPB Learning Officer who leads the project, was hugely impressed with all the hard work the classes had put into their displays and presentations. “It’s been loads of fun working with Deanburn, Park and Riverside this year, and they’ve done a great job of sharing their learning with each other”.

The project will continue in the 2016/17 school year with another three primary schools having the opportunity to get out and about to explore the fascinating place that the Inner Forth is.  If you or someone you know would like to volunteer your time to help with this project please get in touch with Miranda Shephard on 01324 832853 or email

More planting at Grangepans Meadow 

Planting plug plants at the meadow . Suzanne Burgess/Buglife

The wildflower meadow at Grangepans in Bo’ness has really started to develop in the lovely weather we have had the last few weeks. The original area that was sown last year has been further enhanced with help from the IFLI landscape management trainees, and Carriden Community after school club.

Almost 2,400 plug plants of 13 species including common knapweed (a favourite of bumblebees and hoverflies) and cow parsley (which common red soldier beetles love) have been planted to further extend the wildflower meadow for pollinating insects and other wildlife, as well as people, to use and enjoy! The annuals within the meadow itself are about to flower, adding extra colour this year and giving time for the other wildflowers, which are the perennials, to develop. The meadow will be cut and the hay lifted in late September, which will further help improve the meadow for next year. 

Help us count our key species

Target species for June 

The Inner Forth is a fantastic place for wildlife at all times of year. To understand more about local nature and how best to look after it, we would like to build up a better picture of what species occur around the Inner Forth Area. Can you help? 
We’ve been working with Dr Scott Shanks at BugLife to come up with a list of significant species that we’d like to highlight. The list consists of species which are under-recorded in this region or are of local conservation priority. The target list for June consists of Common Blue Butterfly, Red-tailed Bumblebee and Skylark. Your sightings don’t have to occur in June - we’d appreciate records from any time – but we’ve decided to break down the list into groups based on the ‘peak’ months of individual species.

Each month we will be highlighting a few important species and inviting people to share these sightings with us by creating a wildlife record on the Inner Forth Nature Counts form on iRecord. Creating a record is easy and only requires a few key pieces of information: 
1. What was seen?
2. Who saw it?
3. When was it seen?
4. Where was it seen? 

You can enter records for these species as well as any other wildlife via the free to use form at 

Your records will help to build a better picture of nature throughout the Inner Forth and can play an important role in conservation work and research. Wildlife recording is also a great way to enhance your field skills and knowledge. We hope you can get involved!

Adam's Finnish adventure


Adam Ross, our IFLI Wildlife Recording Assistant, talks about an inspiring visit to Finland:

 In the first week of May I was fortunate enough to participate in a week-long visit to Finland, organised by Archnetwork and funded by Erasmus+ to help people working in the environmental sector with professional development. It was an incredibly varied and inspiring week and I came home with some fantastic memories.

The trip provided an amazing opportunity to gain new insights and share ideas relating to wildlife, conservation and land use in another country. I was joined on the trip by seven very interesting, knowledgeable and sociable staff members from fellow environmental organisations and we had a fantastic time visiting a range of national parks, reserves, education facilities and information centres. We stayed in a traditional farmhouse next to Lake Hiivalahti with a resident osprey fishing near the shore most nights!

We had some fantastic wildlife encounters with marsh harriers, a goshawk, cranes, pygmy and Ural owls, as well as beaver feeding signs and wolf poo. I learned a lot about the cultivation and management of forestry - something which accounts for around 75% of the land use and is an integral part of the Finnish economy and way of life. We had fantastic hosts from the University of Applied Sciences in Tampere who gave us a flavour of Finnish culture, ecology and environmental education from compulsory forest schools right through to their own forestry degree programme.

It was very interesting to experience different attitudes and approaches to access and recreation in a country which felt a bit more engaged with the outdoors and certainly more respectful of the environment when it came to issues such as littering and vandalism. As a visitor, it’s easy to come away with a rose-tinted view, but Finland definitely seemed to have a great attitude when it came to supporting biodiversity and engaging positively with the outdoors.

Most of the differences between the two countries can be linked in some way or other to Finland’s long-established forest-based culture, however there were many ideas that have helped re-frame and inform the way I look at conservation in Scotland. I’m therefore incredibly glad I got the opportunity to participate in this trip and gain experiences which have impacted very positively on me, both personally and professionally. I’d thoroughly recommend a visit!

You can read an expanded version of this blog on our website along with the full trip report including my chapter on Wildlife & Conservation. 

What’s on!

Full details of all our events, and some organised by friends and partners, 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...

Fri 17 June, 5-6pm
Kinneil Estate Survey Walk - Come and try event
Kinneil Esate Museum, Bo'ness
Details here.
Sat 18 June, 8.30-10.30am
Mothing around the Forth 2
RSPB Black Devon Wetlands, near Alloa
More details here.
Tues 21 June, 10.30am-12.30pm
A healthy walk to Cambus Pools
Cambus, near Alloa
More details here.

Fri 24 June, 10am - 12.30pm
Valleyfield Woods Survey Walk - Come and try event
Valleyfield Woods, Fife

More details here.

Sat 2 July, 8.30-10.30am
Mothing around the Forth 3
MD Crombie, Fife

More details here.

Wed 6 July, 10am - 1pm
Bridgeness Biodiversity tasks
Bridgeness, nr Bo'ness

More details here.

Sat 9 and Sun 10 July 9.30am - 4pm
Kennetpans Weekend - surveying the warehouse
Kennetpans, near Kincardine

More details here.

Sat 9 July, 10am - 4pm
Kennetpans Weekend - Bioblitz:surveying the wildlife
Kennetpans, near Kincardine

More details here.

Sun 10 July, 10am - 3pm
Kennetpans Weekend -sketch tour with the Edinburgh Sketcher
Kennetpans, near Kincardine

More details here.

Thurs 14 July, 8.30 - 10.30am
Mothing around the Forth 4
Devilla Forest, Fife

More details here.

Wed 20 July, 11am - 3pm
Gartmorn Dam Clean-up
Gartmorn Dam Country Park, nr Sauchie

More details here.

Wed 27 July, 1 -3.30pm
Fallin Bing Survey Walk - Come and try event
Fallin, nr Stirling

More details here.
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