Photo by Laurence Bissett
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The Inner Forth Festival 2016 kicked off on 1 September with The Forth from a New Perspective - a trip up and down the Inner Forth on board the Maid of the Forth.One hundred people joined us to celebrate the start of our Festival, and we heard from experts and project leads about some of the 50 fantastic IFLI projects that are helping conserve, protect and celebrate this unique landscape of ours.
It marked the launch of a month packed with activities, workshops and events designed to celebrate the Inner Forth. This is the second year the festival has been held, with the 2015 edition attracting over 1000 people.This year sees 33 events organised by 15 different organisations taking place across the month and across the area.
The festival sees us delve into the history of Alloa, one of the most important harbours in the area, as The Walking Theatre Group and pupils from Alloa Academy put on two exclusive performances of a brand new play: Smugglers, Spies and Stolen Plum Pies: or, the Darker Side of Alloa's Trade in the 18th Century. This play, based on original historical research by our volunteer Ian Middleton, will explore the history of Alloa Tower and harbour, the trading and smuggling that was rife in the town in the 1700s, and even the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. These performances take place at 6:30pm on the 22nd and 28th, and you can book your tickets by following the link above.
And the day before that we've got George Haggarty, an archaeologist, to give a talk at Alloa Tower about the history of the ceramics industry around the Forth. George has researched and published extensively about the history of ceramics in Scotland, and the evening is sure to be interesting and informative. History buffs might also be interested in History By Bike or the Culross Heritage Walk, also happening in September as part of the Festival.
The view from Clackmannan Tower (Photo HES)
And near the end of the month there is weekend of events all around Clackmannan, including a rare chance to tour the inside of Clackmannan Tower, which dates back to the 14th century and has recently undergone restoration work to the balustrade, allowing for incredible views of the surrounding area. The Clackmannan Heritage Weekend will also include heritage tours of the town as part of the national Doors Open Day, exhibitions and talks, as well as children's activities like face painting.
Also that weekend, and just along the road at Black Devon Wetland Reserve, we're organizing a bioblitz, looking at recording as many different species in the area as possible.
Throughout the month we'll have an exhibition at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling showcasing the work of our artist-in-residence Darren Woodhead. Painting The Forth will highlight the way Darren uses his art to show how the nature, culture, history and industry of the landscape interact and influence each other.
We're also offering a chance to brush up on your photography skills with Dave Taylor from Wildpix Scotland. He'll be leading two guided walks in Cambus on the 25th September, where attendees can pick up tips on how to get the best out of your camera as well as enjoying the scenery.
This is just a fraction of the events we have planned throughout September - check out the leaflet for all the information, or head to the What's On section at the end of the newsletter.
FEL's Orchards Officer Diane Alderdice with volunteers at the Riverside Community Orchard
Following on from the successful A Fruitful Landscape project, led by Central Scotland Green Network Trust, Forth Environment Link are taking up the baton by beginning a new phase of work aimed at rejuvenating the historic orchards of the Inner Forth.
A Fruitful Landscape saw two new orchards planted in 2016 with the assistance of local schoolchildren; one at Cambuskenneth Abbey and another at Kinneil House, both on the sites of historic orchards.
While Fruitful Landscapes was about the planting of the orchards, Fruitful Communities aims to support local people to learn about and maintain those orchards for their own use and enjoyment. Fruitful Communities will consist of a year-long calendar of events and activities, including 12 workshop opportunities for interested locals and school groups. It is hoped that by encouraging communities to get involved in this project we can provide a link between the modern day orchards, and the time when the Inner Forth was famous for its fruit production. Orchards in the area can be dated back as far as the 1100s, when monks at Cambuskenneth were known to cultivate apple trees.
Conservation volunteers at Kinneil Lagoons
The benefits of volunteering are numerous: not only are you helping charities and organisations get important work done, but it can be a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills or enhance what you already know, as well as meeting new people and giving you a chance to get involved in your local community.
The RSPB in the Inner Forth area also offers a variety of volunteering opportunities for anyone interesting in habitat management or conservation. As we reported in a previous newsletter volunteers also get the chance to work at RSPB Inversnaid, allowing the work parties to gain even wider experience of habitat management. Volunteers could also get the opportunity to undergo formal training for industry recognised qualifications (such as brushcutter tickets or first aid). One of the major projects that the RSPB are currently looking for volunteers on is at Black Devon Wetlands. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
There are also opportunities within IFLI itself
, including for historical researchers and events assistants. You never know where volunteering could take you - for example the Smugglers, Spies and Stolen Plum Pies play that takes place in September as part of the Festival is based on original research by one of our volunteers, Ian Middleton.
So whatever your interests and abilities, there's always a volunteering option for you.
Adam Ross, our Wildlife Recording Assistant
We are very sad to be saying goodbye to Adam Ross, IFLI's Wildlife Recording Assistant. Adam has been a fantastic member of theIFLI team, bringing not only his wide knowledge of wildlife to the job, but also his ability to share that knowledge with others with passion, enthusiasm, patience and a great sense of humour.We will miss him a lot!
Before leaving last Friday Adam wrote a final piece for the enewsletter describing his time with IFLI:
'My time with IFLI has come to an end and I’m sad to be saying goodbye. I’ve had a fantastic year full of fun and memorable experiences. The Wildlife Recording Assistant role has provided a huge amount of variety and stimulation – it’s very hard to get bored when a working day can entail a birdsong walk and a moth trapping workshop back-to-back, on opposite sides of the Forth Estuary, all before lunchtime.
My favourite aspect of the job has probably been my involvement in the Forth Nature Counts
workshop programme. I’ve had the pleasure of learning about badgers, bumblebees, bryophytes, butterflies, birds and even a few things that don’t
start with the letter ‘B’. Every event has been inspiring in its own way and I seem to walk shorter and shorter distances from my house / the office as my list of wildlife to stop and examine grows longer and longer. It’s been great working with volunteers to record wildlife on new and existing survey routes. Members of the public, using the Inner Forth Recording Form
have generated over 8,000 records for 968 species since the project began.
There have been many highlights over the last year. Seeing my first ever short-eared owl on the last day of work before the Christmas holidays was a significant moment. It seemed to be glowing in the low winter sun as it quartered the saltmarsh, demonstrating where the ‘flammeus’
part of its Latin name originates. I’ve been fortunate to have quite a few more encounters with short-eared owls around the Forth since then.
Another highlight was my trip to Finland in May. The landscape, wildlife and people we encountered were all brilliant and I felt incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to participate. The full report is now available to read on the ArchNetwork website
More recently I ran my own Forth Nature Counts workshop, focussing on the mustelid family of mammals. Mammals are a passion of mine and I found the process of researching, writing and delivering the workshop really enjoyable and rewarding. We found pine marten signs in the forest and I achieved a ‘personal best’ for camera trapping by achieving this close-up footage
of an inquisitive weasel.
It’s not just the wildlife that has made this job such a pleasure. I’d like to say a huge thank you to my amazing IFLI colleagues, our dedicated volunteers, the passionate workshop attendees and the inspiring workshop leaders as well as RSPB and the Heritage Lottery Fund for all of the support and encouragement I’ve received throughout my traineeship.
I’m off to Aberdeenshire to discover a new landscape. I’ll definitely miss this one.
The Big Roman Week is an annual celebration which marks the birthday of Emperor Antonius Pious, the Roman ruler who had the Antonine Wall constructed in AD 142. Events take place on the 17-25 September, with a series of activities across the Falkirk area celebrating this UNESCO World Heritage Site and integral part of local history.
The festival is organised by the Friends of Kinneil and a variety of local partners, and has a variety of events including author talks, guided walks and even a showing at the Bo'ness Hippodrome of the Oscar-winning film Roman Holiday.
And head up to Kinneil Estate on Saturday 17 September for a chance to find out more about the recently-planted orchard on the site as part of Forth Environment Link's Roman In The Orchard day, which will include apple juicing, a gravity test for aspiring Issac Newtons, and a chance for a family to 'adopt' a tree for the afternoon.
All information about the Big Roman Week can be found on the official website.
One of the best parts of walking outdoors is coming across a sudden burst of colour in the form of wildflowers, so if you've been down at Kinneil you might have noticed the results of our Wildlife Connections project work there.
The meadow in April
Kinneil wildflower meadow in August
The progress made already means that by the wildflower will be well established next summer, after being cut sometime in late September/early October to allow the wildflowers to set seed. This new meadow will complement the existing wildflower meadows in Grangepans, which have been planted thanks to an IFLI project there managed by Buglife..
Poppies, cornflowers and ox-eye daisies in flower at Grangepans
What's on at the Inner Forth Festival 2016
Painting The Forth Exhibition
6 September - 2 October
Smith Art Gallery and Museum
A month-long exhibition of the work of IFLI's artist-in-residence Darren Woodhead.
Culross Heritage Walk
6 September, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
A chance to explore this historic burgh in the company of IFLI's cultural heritage officer Kirsty McAlister.
Bridgeness Biodiversity - Habitat Management
7 September, 10am - 1pm
Volunteer with Buglife to learn about this site's wildlife and help manage it. To book email email@example.com or call 01786 447504.
Braveheart Cambus Pools Walk
7 September, 1.30pm - 2.15pm
Join us for a healthy walk to this Scottish Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve in good company.
Try Scrub Bashing!
9, 24 & 30 September, 10am - 3pm
A chance to try your hand at practical conservation - clearing scrub to make the lagoons better for wetland birds.
Wild In The Woods
12 September, 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Bring your family for a wild evening the woods where you can learn bushcrafting skills like den making and fire lighting, as well as making use of a new outdoor classroom area.
Defeating The Invaders
13 September, 9.30am - 4.30pm
Raploch Community Campus, Stirling
A conference on local solutions to the global problem of invasive non-native species, featuring a full day of expert-led talks and workshops. To book visit: http://bit.ly/1sHAiTx.
Island Field Cut
14 September, 11am - 3pm
Help Clackmannanshire Rangers cut and rake the island field at Gartmorn Dam to help make it better for wildflowers and grasses. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01259 450000.
Come And Try Survey Walk
15 September, 4.30pm - 7pm
Learn more about the wildlife of Kinneil Foreshore and learn to use some simple wildlife ID techniques.
Investigating Higgins Neuk
15 September, 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Find out more about the new IFLI project to investigate the history of Higgins Neuk, a former royal dockyard with links to James IV. Later in the month a guided walk will take place at the site.
History By Bike
16 September, 10.30am
Stirling Cycle Hub
Explore the fascinating history of the Inner Forth area by bike with Stirling Cycle Hub and IFLI.
Limekilns Beach Clean
18 September, 10am - 12pm
Help to preserve and protect the beach at Limekilns as part of the Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean 2016.
Ceramic Industries Of The Forth
21 September, 7pm - 8.30pm
Ceramics expert George Haggarty will tell us more about the many ceramics industries found along the shores of the Forth.
Stirling's Archaeological Highlights from 2015/16
22 September, 1pm - 2pm
Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling
Join Dr Murray Cook, Stirling Council's Archaeologist in a review of recent archaeological discoveries across Stirling.
Smugglers, Spies and Stolen Plum Pies
22 & 28 September, 6.30pm - 7.30pm
A performance of a brand new, specially-written play about the smugglers and trading shenanigans around Alloa in the 18th century.
RSPB Black Devon Wetlands Bioblitz
24 September, 10am - 4pm
RSPB Black Devon Wetlands, nr Alloa
Join the IFLI team and friends for a day of nature recording. We will be seeing how many wildlife records we can make during the day.
Come and Try a Survey Walk
24 September, 2.30pm - 5pm
RSPB Black Devon Wetlands, nr Alloa
Learn more about the wildlife and biodiversity of wetlands and learn to use some simple wildlife ID techniques.
Wildlife & Landscape Photography Walks
25 September, 10am - 1pm, 2.30pm - 5.30pm
Take your camera for a walk with Dave Taylor from Wildpix Scotland as you explore the River Devon and surroundings. Gain tips on how to get the best out of your camera and enjoy the scenery with an eye on capturing some great images.