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Welcome to IFLI's November 2015 eNewsletter



In this issue:


Forth Nature Counting more and more


 

Roosting waders/RSPB Images 

Dwindling daylight and worsening weather makes this is a great time of year for taking stock and making plans. Adam Ross, IFLI’s Wildlife Recording Assistant, has been spending the past few weeks reflecting on the Forth Nature Counts project, analysing feedback and thinking about ideas for 2016.

7 November marked the end of the 2015 Forth Nature Counts workshop program with a Migrant Wader & Wildfowl ID course. The day was led by RSPB’s David Anderson and offered a beginner’s guide to some of the Inner Forth’s most important birds. David shared a number of tricks for distinguishing between species and despite a very wet morning we saw a superb range of birds at Kinneil including a large flock of golden plover. The sunshine even appeared for just long enough to catch their honey-tinged plumage as they came in to land.

It has been a great year for the Forth Nature Counts project. We ran 18 free public training workshops aimed at developing people’s wildlife ID and survey skills. We were delighted to see so many of these events being fully booked and the feedback has been excellent. We’d like to say a big thank you to our amazing workshop leaders for volunteering their time as well as everyone who attended an event, particularly those who filled out an evaluation form! These feedback questionnaires have been incredibly beneficial as they allow us to improve the way we operate and get a sense of what people would like to see next year. We welcome further feedback so if you have any comments or suggestions for future workshop topics please contact info@innerforthlandscape.co.uk with your ideas.

We’ve also been totalling up the iRecord wildlife records for the year so far. We’ve already seen 4,615 new records for the Inner Forth area added to iRecord with 831 different species listed. This is a fantastic achievement, especially when we compare it to the previous year’s totals of just 518 records and 300 species.



The most frequently recorded species in the Inner Forth are White Clover, Oxeye Daisy and Chaffinch, closely followed by garden visitors such as Blackbird, Wren and various Bumblebees. There were also some rarer sightings including the Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblee, the Red-horned Nomad Bee and the Lesser Treble-bar moth.

There’s no need to ease-off over Autumn and Winter either! Sparser vegetation and more mud improves conditions for spotting mammal trails and footprints while the skies begin to fill with starling murmurations, goose formations and other migrating flocks. Keep an eye out for waxwing, brambling, redwing and fieldfare or even the occasional Fife-born sea eagle returning home to their winter roosts after summering on the west coast – occasionally with unexpected stop-offs in the Stirling area! We encourage all such sightings to be celebrated and shared via the Inner Forth Nature Counts form on iRecord.


Fruitful Landscapes project blossoming

CFA Archaeology at work at Kinneil Estate


IFLI’s Fruitful Landscapes project at Kinneil Estate, which is being led by Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT), took several steps forward recently.

A geophysics survey of the site, an important step in assessing the area before work begins on planting, was done at the beginning of November by CFA archaeology. CSGNT’s Emilie Wadsworth explained why: ‘Geophysics is a non-intrusive survey technique which uses equipment that takes measurements of the magnetic field or electrical resistance within the soil, enabling archaeological features to be detected without disturbing or damaging them. The techniques are often used to identify areas which require further analysis from digging pits, but in this case, it was to try to identify features from the old orchard, such as paths, trenches, or individual tree pits which would help in designing a layout for the recreated orchard.’
 
In addition to this, the discovery of an old Tom Putt apple tree in a Bo’ness resident’s garden has resulted in a hunt for other old trees which could reveal more information on the varieties of fruit grown in other old orchards in the area. CSGNT are working closely with Forth Environment Link’s Forth Valley Orchards, and the Friends of Kinneil, on the project, and they have arranged a public meeting for Wednesday 25 November at the Bo’ness Library from 7pm to find out more, and encourage more local people to get involved in planning and developing the new orchard. If you can’t attend, but have information you’d like to share, please send it to emilie.wadsworth@csgnt.org.uk
 


Wester Moss gets wetter still
 

Volunteer Stuart Bence 'seeding' one of the new pools with
sphagnum mosses to help speed up the restoration process

Volunteers who went along to help out at Butterfly Conservation Scotland's Bog Action Day at Wester Moss earlier this month found out just why the IFLI project there is called Wetter Moss! And it wasn't just because of the torrential rain. Thanks to the new bund that was created in October, lots more water is now staying on the bog, creating new pools and making it much healthier for the wildlife that depends on this rare and threatened habitat. The volunteer team did a great job creating another dam at the south end of the main drain. They also removed 30 conifer saplings, which if left to their own devices would suck moisture out of the soils and make the bog drier, and shade out more delicate bog plants. 
 

New meadows will create a buzz at Bo’ness


Bo’ness is going to be truly buzzing next summer, thanks to two projects that are working with local organisations to plant new wildflower meadows:
 
Starting work on the wildflower meadow at Bo'ness Station.  David Palmar/www.photoscot.co.uk

Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway has joined up with the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI) to create a new wildflower meadow that will make Bo’ness Station and  Museum of Scottish Railways a haven for wildlife and a beautiful place for people to visit by next summer.
 
The work is taking place as part of IFLI’s RSPB-led Wildlife Connections project, which works with landowners around the inner Forth to help them make their land better for wildlife.  The meadow is being planted because we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows in the UK since the 1930s, with a massive 40% lost in Scotland in just over 20 years to 2005. As a result we have also lost more than two thirds of our wild bees, butterflies and other insects, which rely on this once-common habitat to nest and feed. As these creatures are also vital pollinators of the crops that we need to feed ourselves, it is crucial that we find ways to bring back our wildflowers.
 
Working in partnership with the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, IFLI has planted a wildflower meadow along the path to the entrance of the museum.  It hopes to plant more around Bo’ness station in spring next year. Beyond the benefits this will provide to our native plants and animals, at the height of summer - when wildflowers are in full bloom - the riot of colour and the buzz and hum of the insects will provide a stunning display that should delight visitors to the museum.
 
The RSPB’s David Anderson said:  “It is great to be working with Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway (BKR) to create new wildflower meadows around Bo’ness station. We hope that through working with us, BKR will help to show other landowners the benefits of creating these wildlife meadows for people and wildlife. We would be delighted to hear from any other landowners or managers around the Inner Forth area who would like to find out more about how they too can create a meadow.”

To find out more about the Wildlife Connections project please contact David Anderson, RSPB Futurescapes Officer, on david.anderson@rspb.org.uk, tel 01324 832853.
 
 Sowing the wildflower seeds at Grangepans

Also in Bo'ness, the Bridgeness Biodiversity project between Buglife and Falkirk Council is transforming an area of amenity grassland in Grangepans into a flower-rich meadow. This flower-rich grassland meadow will not only add colour and life to the area, helping to improve the health and well-being off local people and visitors to Bo’ness, but will also provide vital habitat for our pollinating insects such as bumblebees, hoverflies and other wildlife, it will also increase and connect habitat along the foreshore of Bo’ness. The site itself is located on the John Muir Way that passes through Bo’ness and is well used by dog walkers, cyclists and visitors to the area.

This autumn, an area of 0.6 hectares in size has been sown with native wildflower and grass seed mix. The area has been designed so that members of the public can walk through the meadows on cut grassland paths. In Spring 2016, there will be further planting along the edge of the sown areas with wildflower plug plants of native species to further enhance the area and to involve children and local people in habitat creation.
If you are interested in learning more about the project please get in touch with Suzanne Burgess at suzanne.burgess@buglife.org.uk and 01786 447504. 
 


Sharing memories of mining
 

Visitors to the exhibition come face to face with Valleyfield's miners
Paul Barclay/IFLI

On 28 October IFLI teamed up with the Valleyfield Heritage Project to run a Memories of Mining exhibition in the High Valleyfield Community Centre.  We were joined by a range of mining heritage and community groups to put on a display commemorating the anniversary of the 1939 Valleyfield Mining Disaster, when an explosion of firedamp (a highly flammable gas that can build up in mines) claimed 35 lives.

Staff and volunteers manned the display stands from 9.30am till 8pm.  There was a huge variety of exhibits on display ranging from mining memorabilia through to artwork, photographs, sound and video recordings, as well as a number of newspaper articles, original maps, drawings and reports detailing the disaster itself.  One of the most popular exhibits was some lumps of coal which many of the schoolchildren attending enjoyed getting their hands on – strange to think that something that was such an important part of the area’s heritage should have been so completely forgotten that this was many of these children’s first encounter with actual “Black Diamonds”.

The day obviously had a sombre overtone as we paid tribute to those who had paid the ultimate price for our energy needs, but there were many lighter moments too. It was wonderful to get a chance to speak to some of the local people who brought along their own mining memorabilia and their memories of how the local pit had affected their lives. To find out more about the IFLI Memories of Mining project visit our website.



Glorious Green Roof first for Calachem

Green roofs make fantastic havens for invertebrates
 
Buglife have awarded the contract for the installation of up to 140m2 of living green roof on a flat roof owned by CalaChem in Grangemouth, Falkirk. This green roof, part of the IFLI Glorious Green Roofs project will use plug plants of wildflower species native to the UK to provide forage on a single story building for wild insect pollinators including bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies. Green roofs also provide a number of benefits to the building itself including improved insulation and cooling, increasing the lifespan of the roof, they also help to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as improving the quality of the air and reducing noise for people working in the building. This living green roof will provide an important stepping stone for wildlife moving across Grangemouth. The roof should be in place by Spring 2015, which means plenty of food for next year’s pollinators and other wildlife!



Trainees in the limelight
 

The trainees take a well-earned break by the Antonine Wall


This update comes from Ali Lawson, Senior Project Officer at The Conservation Volunteers (TCV). Ali supervises the IFLI Landscape Management Trainees on a day-to-day basis and designs their work programme, primarily based on IFLI project sites. The project runs from 2014 to 2017, and involves a rolling programme of 13-week blocks of work for the trainees. The trainees are selected to take part in the programme from Falkirk Council’s Employment Training Unit and are supported by ETU staff. 

Ali says, “Since the new trainees started in October, we have been to the Limekilns at Charlestown in Fife, Wester Moss in Stirling, Shiresmill Woodland in West Fife, and worked on part of the Antonine Wall in Tamfourhill, Falkirk. The work we have been doing at Charlestown has been really interesting for the boys, working on top of the best preserved Limekilns in Scotland. The task has involved a massive amount of scrub clearance to open up the top of the kilns and the view over the Forth. It will help prevent the vegetation from damaging the building further, and allow people to get a better idea of how the limekilns would have looked when they were working.'
 


Archaeologists and aerial photography


Looking down the Forth to the Clackmannan and Kincardine Bridges

On Thursday 3 December IFLI will host an evening talk by Dave Cowley, who will be looking at how aerial photographs can be used to study landscapes, and how archaeologists interpret what can be seen. Dave will illustrate his talk with examples from the Forth Valley.
Dave is Aerial Survey Projects Manager at the newly-formed Historic Environment Scotland (HES). He has over two decades’ experience in survey and interpretation of Scotland’s archaeology through survey, and has published widely on the subject of landscape development and interpretation.

The talk will begin at 7pm, and will be held at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling. The event is FREE to attend but spaces are limited so should be booked by calling 01324 831568 or emailing kirsty.mcalister@rspb.org.uk


 

Paint the Forth with Darren Woodhead


One of Darren's watercolours painted in the field at Kinneil Lagoons

IFLI is working with our Artist-in-Residence Darren Woodhead to put on a series of watercolour art workshops, called Painting the Forth. The workshops are free, and open to anyone who would like to be inspired to get out into the brilliant Inner Forth landscape to paint. No previous experience is needed - just enthusiasm! We are particularly keen to encourage local people to come along to their nearest workshop and find inspiration on their doorstep.

The workshops will all run from 10am to 4pm approximately, starting indoors and then going outdoors to paint the landscape from life. Dates and locations are:
  • Friday 11 December, Bo'ness Library and Kinneil Lagoons;
  • Saturday 16 January, Clackmannan Town Hall and Black Devon Wetlands;
  • Sunday 21 February, Cambuskenneth Village Hall and the Forth at Cambuskenneth.
Bring your own materials if you have them, otherwise materials will be provided. You'll need to bring a packed lunch, but tea, coffee etc will also be provided. For any further details, and to book your place (essential as spaces are limited), contact info@innerforthlandscape.co.uk.
 

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...

Mon 23 November, 10.30 - 3.00pm
Pond management day with British Dragonfly Society
Devilla Forest, Fife
Details here.
 
Mon 23 November, 7.30pm
Clackmannanshire waggonways evening
Alloa Town Hall
More details here.
 
Weds 25 November, 7pm
Tale of Two Estates Open Evening
Clackmannan Town Hall
More details here.

Weds 25 November, 7pm
Open evening for Kinneil orchard project
Bo'ness Library

More details here.

Sun 8 November, 10am - 3pm
Bog Action day
Wester Moss, Fallin

More details here.

Sat 28 November and Fri 11 December, 10am - 3pm (fully booked)
Conservation volunteering around the Forth

More details here.

Thurs 3 December, 7 - 8.30pm
Archaeologists and Aerial Photographs
Smith Art Gallery, Stirling

More details here.

Sat 5 December, 10am - 4pm
TWIC Autumn Conference
Linlithgow

More details here.

Weds 9 December, 11am
Habitat Creation Workshop with Buglife
Kinneil Local Nature Reserve, Bo'ness

More details here.

Fri 11 December, 10am - 4pm
Paint the Forth with Darren Woodhead
Bo'ness Library

More details here.

Sat 16 January 2016, 10am - 4pm
Paint the Forth with Darren Woodhead
Clackmannan Town Hall

More details here.
Copyright © 2015 Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, All rights reserved.


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