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Clackmannan Development Trust were piloting a floodlighting project at Clackmannan Tower earlier this month, which saw the historic landmark illuminated in a variety of colours. For more information visit 

Welcome to IFLI's December 2016 eNewsletter


In this issue:

Could you be IFLI's next Wildlife Recording Assistant?

Photo: Paul Barclay 

Would you like to join the IFLI team for 12 months as a trainee? We are looking for an individual who has a passion for nature, the ability to share this with others and an interest in supporting the development of wildlife recording in the landscape. You will have an interest in developing a future career in the environmental or conservation sector. With a focus on IFLI's Forth Nature Counts project you will work closely with the small staff team, our partners and volunteers to help build a better picture of wildlife in the Inner Forth landscape during IFLI's final year of delivery. This role will include evening and weekend work, sometimes travelling to places with limited access by public transport so a driving license is preferred.

Through this post you will benefit from working as part of a dynamic and supportive team and a multidisciplinary partnership. You will have access to a range of training and development opportunities throughout the year to support your personal and professional development. This post is a training placement as part of IFLI's Training Tomorrow's Talent project. The post is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Applications for the Wildlife Recording Assistant post close on 13th January with interviews scheduled for 30th January. This post is 22.5 hours per week for 12 months, based out of the IFLI office at RSPB Skinflats near Airth, Falkirk.

The full advertisement and application pack can be found on the RSPB website.

Work begins at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands

Situated where the Black Devon River meets the Forth between Alloa and Clackmannan, this RSPB wetland site is yet another spot in our landscape that provides excellent habitat for wintering wading birds and wildfowl. The area's freshwater and brackish pools attract shelduck, geese, and many other wildfowl, while the surrounding grasslands are hunted over by birds of prey such as kestrals, owls and the occasional marsh harrier.The conservation work undertaken since 2015, when the RSPB first leased the site, will ensure that it gets even better, for avian and human visitors alike.

The latest work began in October, with the foundations being laid for a viewing structure and boardwalk, as well as extending the paths on site for greater access, and creating two new pools of water to further enhance the habitat. 

The viewing structure starts to take shape

Working on the boardwalk

The work at Black Devon Wetlands will be competed for spring 2017, when species like grasshopper and sedge warblers, and water rails, return from their winter habitats in Africa. To learn more about what species you'll see at all times of the year the reserve's page on the RSPB website has extra information.

.... and work continues at Cambus Pools

Just upstream from Black Devon Wetlands conservation work continues at another of the Inner Forth's excellent spots for wildlife, the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Cambus Pools Nature Reserve. 

Photo: Rory Sandison, SWT

The above photo shows a Truxor Reed Cutter removing some of the reeds that have overgrown in the freshwater pools on the site. The reeds are an invasive species in this habitat and if left to grow can take over the pool and would threaten biodiversity on site. This follows a steady programme of habitat management in the area to ensure that the freshwater pools that make the area so attractive to birds are kept clear and healthy, undertaken as part of the IFLI Cambus Pools project. Moving into next year there will be a stock bridge and a viewing screen installed on site, so keep an eye out for updates on the progress there.

Managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Cambus Pools is a great example of how industry and nature co-exist in the landscape. The Reserve takes up a small area of flatland tucked between the Diaego distillery site, and is separated from the Forth itself by flood embankments. Its reedbeds and grassland provide a habitat for various bird species throughout the year, and recently-installed paths - part of another IFLI project with the Central Scotland Green Network Trust -  allow people to easily explore the area and enjoy the excellent views of the river, west to Stirling and east to Alloa and beyond. 

For more information you can visit the SWT website

One step closer to finding the Hidden Remains of Higgins Neuk

Jason Jordan from Coventry University explains the sediments the auger retrieved, and what they tell us about the landscape and its history. Photo: SCAPE Trust

This autumn saw the first fieldwork taking place at Higgins Neuk, Airth, with the site of a project bringing together experts and the local community to investigate the possible remains of a former royal dockyard.

Higgins Neuk is believed to be where James IV docked his prized ship The 'Great' Michael after its completion in 1512. Local historian John Reid has researched the story for years, and thinks the area around the mouth of the Pow Burn might be the specific location. This year and next a team - led by The SCAPE Trust - of archaeologists, geographers and environmental historians will be working with the local community to investigate the site.

The work in 2016 has been all about trying to understand the landscape to help us decide where to dig next year. First, a geophysical survey showed buried features in the area. In October, local metal detectorists unearthed evidence of metal working on the site. And at the same time a team of geographers taught a group of volunteers about auger surveys and what they can tell us about the landscape. All this helps to point in the direction of where exactly the dig itself will take place in 2017. 

A public meeting on 9th December at 6.30pm at Airth Community Hall will discuss the latest findings and where the project moves to next.

For more information contact Ellie Graham from SCAPE on or call 01334 463017, and keep an eye on IFLI's website and social media channels for more updates on the project as it continues.

Falkirk biodiversity in the spotlight

Life, the Biodiversity Newsletter produced by Falkirk Council, is a great resource for anyone looking to keep up with the efforts of the various local organisations who work to preserve biodiversity in the Falkirk area.

The latest issue features a number of IFLI projects you may already be familiar with, but each one always has information about the important work being carried out by Falkirk Council and numerous other groups in the area.

For more information and to get access to the above Autumn 2016 edition, and further back issues of the newsletter you can visit Falkirk Council's website.

Inner Forth Photography Competition 2016 Results

For the past two months we have been running a photography competition aimed at getting people to share their favourite or most picturesque part of the Inner Forth Landscape, and after a month of public voting it is finally time to announce the winners from a shortlist of nine:

3rd Place - Trevor Griffin - Storm A Brewin'

2nd Place - Isabelle Gilbert - Blackness Castle

Winner - Ian Don - Bo'ness Town Hall

There were almost a thousand votes cast across the nine photos over November, and the entries covered the length and breath of the area and what it has to offer.

A massive thank you to everyone who took the time to submit or to vote. If you would like to view the rest of the entries you can see them on our website.

Landscape Management Trainees latest update

Ali Lawson from The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) has been supervising this ninth group of trainees. Here is his latest report:

"With five new intrepid landscape trainees we've been out and about on a different project. We have been carrying out some sea buckthorn clearing down at Kinneil foreshore near Bo'ness. The trainees have been learning the proper way to use bowsaws and loppers to take out these bushes, and the proper way to start and manage a fire, which is much needed in this current cold weather.

"We have also been doing some work at SWT Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre: tree planting, building raised beds, re-surfacing around the new beds and leveling off large areas of ground. All this ties into the wider work that TCV are doing at Jupiter at the moment and the trainees really enjoy seeing the results of their hard work being used when the volunteer team come in for food growing sessions."

Landscape Management Trainees is an IFLI project running from September 2014 - April 2017 giving young people practical conservation and restoration experience around the IFLI area. For more information and updates on what previous groups of trainees have been up to please visit our website. 

Memories of mining shared at Over And Under The Forth

IFLI recently hosted two events as part of our on-going Memories of Mining project, taking place in Valleyfield and Bo'ness to highlight the historic and modern links between these two towns on either side of the Forth. Between the years of 1964 and 1978 the towns were linked by a coal tunnel which ran under the Forth, supplying the colliery at Kinneil with coal from Valleyfield. The exhibitions took place on Friday 28th October at Valleyfield Community Centre, and Tuesday 22nd November at Bo'ness Town Hall.

The events gave locals a chance to browse through mining memorabilia and artefacts from the times when collieries and pits were operational in both places, as well as finding out more about the work done by Forth Valley Orchards to re-establish historic orchards at both sites.


Original map of the Forth coal tunnel

All photos by Kirsty McAlister and Kate Fuller, IFLI

Both events were also attended by pupils from several primary schools in Valleyfield and Bo'ness, who had been working on the mining and orchard projects, and the Bo'ness event featured a performance from the Unison Kinneil Brass Band, which was intially formed in 1858 by local workers and has continued ever since.

A massive thank you to Friends of Kinneil, Forth Environment Link, Valleyfield Heritage Project and Fife Mining Heritage Society, as well as everyone who turned out on both days to share their memories and stories.

Target species to record in December

Whilst winter months mean shorter days, colder nights and perhaps more time spent indoors, there is still plenty of wildlife to be seen around the Inner Forth. Each month we are promoting recording of a few species that are under-recorded or locally important. If you see any of these species over the next few weeks (or during the rest of the year!) please make a note of when, where and what before sharing the record on the Inner Forth Nature Counts form on iRecord

Thanks for taking part and helping to build a better picture of nature in the landscape.


Autumn Step Count Challenge 2016

Throughout November the IFLI team and our RSPB colleagues at Skinflats took part in the Step Count Challenge, a program set up by Paths For All to encourage people to get out and about, and introduce more exercise into their daily routine. 

It works quite simply, by capitalizing on the natural competitiveness of people in a workplace - each day you use a pedometer or step-tracking app to log your steps (or distance ran, cycled or swam), which collates all the data from yourself and your team of five friends or workmates. Teams from all around the country take part, so you can also see how you measure up on a national scale.

Having this extra encouragement to go out for a walk at lunch time not only benefits your health, but it lets you take in some of the great areas in the landscape on a daily basis, which you might otherwise only see sporadically. It also gives you the chance to gloat if, for example, your team triumphs in the office challenge.

The next Paths For All Challenge takes place in Spring, over an 8-week period, and anyone can sign up to a team, either from a group of friends or people who share an office.

What's On

An overview of what's coming up around the Inner Forth over the next few weeks. 

Booking/contact information for each event can be found in the links provided.

Fruitful Christmas Gifts - Family Craft Activites
Kinneil Estate Museum
Sunday 4th December
1:00pm - 3:30pm

Join Forth Environment Link at Kinneil Estate to make some lovely orchard-themed Christmas gifts and decorations. Booking essential. More info.

Bridgeness Biodiversity 
Bridgeness Ship Breakers, Bo'ness
Wednesday 7th December
10:00am - 1:00pm

Join Buglife at Bridgeness Ship Breakers in Bo'ness to learn about the importance of the site for wildlife. Takes place the first Wednesday of every month. More info.

Stein Distilleries at Kennetpans and Kilbagie
Queen's Hall, Charlestown
Thursday 8th December

A talk by IFLI's Cultural Heritage Officer Dr Kirsty McAlister on the rise and fall of the Stein family and their twin distilleries on the shore of the Forth. Hosted by the Gellet Society. More info.

Higgins Neuk Workshop and Meeting
Airth Community Hall
Friday 9th December

The latest public meeting as part of SCAPE's on-going investigation into the former Royal dockyard at Higgins Neuk. More info.

Copyright © 2016 Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, All rights reserved.

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