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A merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy and peaceful 2016 from the IFLI Team!


Short-eared owl at Skinflats  David Palmar/www.photoscot.co.uk


In this issue:

Trading in history

A whale door knocker in Limekilns, Fife  Kirsty McAlister


As part of the Forth Crossings project IFLI is planning to create an online interactive map showing the locations and details of some of the Inner Forth’s many trading links.  This is a big job, involving sifting through piles of books, photographs and old documents looking for references to trade goods, harbours and ports as well as piers, jetties, slipways and wharfs  - not to mention learning the difference between those last four!
Although the volume of trade on the Forth has never been higher than it is today it is now concentrated into fewer places.  The huge cargoes coming and going through the modern port of Grangemouth have eclipsed the formerly bustling harbours and piers of trading towns such as Alloa, Kincardine, Charlestown and Bo’ness.  One unfortunate side effect of this is that these old trading routes and links, once so vital to Scotland’s economy, are starting to slip from common memory.  Another part of the mapping project will try to address that by seeking out some of the flotsam and jetsam that the trading heritage of the area has left behind... This is where we need your help!
We’d love to hear about any unusual links to trade on the river that you know about around your area.  This can be anything from a picture of a ship on a building or gravestone to an old local nickname for a street or an area.  We know of several of these links already such as nautical themed stained glass and whale shaped doorknockers, but we’d love to know more.  Even more importantly we’d love to have your photographs of these objects that we can use on our website and on the map itself.
If you have anything you’d like to share with us then please do get in touch, we can’t promise everything will be included but all contributions will be gratefully received and will really help us in our ambition to put the Inner Forth’s trading history on the map. Please send any contributions to Dr Kirsty McAlister, IFLI Cultural Heritage Officer, Kirsty.mcalister@rspb.org.uk , tel 01324 831568.
 

Enjoy the blizzard of winter birds!
 

Thousands of dunlin and lapwing swirl over Kinneil Lagoons 
David Palmar/www.photoscot.co.uk

Anyone who lives around the Inner Forth will probably have noticed the huge numbers of wildfowl and wading birds that come here every winter. Most of these birds spend their summer far to the north in the breeding grounds of the high Arctic. As the summer draws to a close however, the frozen landscapes of northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland become too inhospitable for these species and they are forced to head for warmer climes in the south, arriving in the Inner Forth during September and October. Their arrival marks the start of a stunning wildlife spectacle as thousands of birds descend on this landscape, filling the skies like a snowstorm.
Mud, glorious mud is the reason they come here. The mud flats of the Inner Forth are full of invertebrates that are simply irresistible for these migrant birds, allowing them to find enough food to survive the cold winter months. The fantastic mudflats of the Inner Forth, and the salt marsh that surrounds them, are however under threat.  Over 50% has been lost over the past few centuries through land claim, and now more is threatened by to climate change.
In response to this, as part of the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, the RSPB is working to create more and better habitat for these birds at two sites within the area. At Black Devon Wetlands they are extending and improving the existing habitat while also making the area more accessible for people, while at Kinneil Lagoons they are creating new wetland habitat that will make an already special site for wildlife even better. This is just the start of what they hope to achieve in the local area. So over the Christmas break why not get outside with your friends and family, go and see the birds, and enjoy the fact that you live in such a fantastic and special landscape .


We are hiring...


Our programme manager oversees all 50 IFLI projects

IFLI is looking for a programme manager to take over from our existing manager Kate Studd during her maternity leave next year. The role involves working with colleagues in a wide range of organisations to manage the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative during the third year of delivery. The successful candidate will oversee 50 projects, and manage scheme staff, trainees and volunteers. They  will need to be well organised and methodical, with strong skills in partnership working, communication, project and budget management, and have the drive and vision needed to deliver. The post is based at RSPB Skinflats Reserve (north of Grangemouth), with some flexibility to work from Glasgow or Edinburgh. It’s a maternity cover post for 30 hours per week. For full details visit the RSPB Vacancies page at http://www.rspb.org.uk/vacancies/details/411609-inner-forth-landscape-initiative-programme-manager-maternity-cover


Schools’ tree-mendous response to planting plea

Apple blossom - a taste of things to come at Valleyfield Woods Community Orchard
B Fagan

West Fife Woodlands group have had a fantastic response to their invitation to local schools to help with fruit tree planting at the new community orchard they are creating at Valleyfield Woods as part of the Initiative. Seven local primary schools will be joining them for planting sessions in January and February 2016 – a total of nearly 300 children. The children will be helping to plant a range of heritage fruit trees in the old kitchen garden at Valleyfield Woods. The schools taking part are Torryburn, Saline, Inzievar, St Serfs, Tuliallan, Culross and Holy Name. In addition to planting the trees they will have chance to explore the woodlands on a snowdrop walk and take part in tree based activities. 


Stories keep coming for Tale of Two Estates project

Overlooking the remains of Forestmill Weir. Murray Dickie
 
Clackmannanshire Field Studies Society’s (CFSS) project, A Tale of Two Estates, is making great headway. The technical report for first part of the project, the Clackmannanshire Colliery Waggonways, is now available on the IFLI website, with the first section on the Alloa waggonway also published in the 2016 Journal of the Forth Naturalist and Historian. Although the research work on the waggonways’ project is completed, new information is still coming to light, mainly about the Clackmannan waggonway. Newspaper articles have revealed that Clackmannan Harbour was still operating in 1890, although the reports relate to three Courts of Inquiry into ships which had loaded coal at Clackmannan foundering at sea. The issue identified by the Courts was that of loaded vessels sitting on the mud at low tide and being “strained”. Given the extremely bad press, it is likely that Clackmannan Harbour did not survive long, particularly with a wet dock available a mile upstream at Alloa. Another report of a fire at a colliery “on the extreme east end of Gartmorn Lake”, names and gives details of the two pits there, one of which was excavated on a training session earlier in the year. A third report gives details of an accident where a waggon driver was run over by the first of a string of waggons.
A local resident has lent the project team her great grandfather’s fascinating records including: Clackmannan Pow Harbour Records - A list of exports from Clackmannan Pow; giving date, name of vessel, tons of coal loaded, type of coal, date loaded,  consignee and destination port covering  1871 to 1874; Clackmannan Coal Books Nos 1 and 2 - A list of daily land sales from the Clackmannan Coal Company covering 1871 to 1873 and 1865 to 1867; and Clackmannan Coal Book No 3:  Income and expenditure accounts of the Clackmannan Coal Company from 1863 to 1865. Volunteers are transcribing the records to an Excel spreadsheet. The information will be used to add to the waggonways research and as part of the research for our harbours project, due in 2017.
Research work has been completed on the village of Westfield, and a time line has been created in advance of pulling the research together for a technical report. The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland’s  - Scotland’s  Rural Past project is due to be relaunched in Spring of 2016 and the waggonway and Westfield records will be put online on the SCRAN database.
Dates are being identified for survey work on CFSS's next project, the Gartmorn and Craigrie lades, which is due to take place in Spring 2016. This will involve surveying and recording the remaining sections and associated remains of the two systems and adding to previous historical research. Details of dates for training and work sessions will be available early in the new year. 


Trainees' woodland work leaves therapy centre riding high 

Alex, one of our Landscape Management Trainees, at work coppicing at Shiresmill Therapy Centre. Ali Lawson


This report comes from Ali Lawson, from TCV, who supervises each group of IFLI Landscape Management Trainees and plans their varied work programme.
Since the new trainees  started we have been to Charlestown Limekilns in Fife, Woodlea Woods in Alloa and Shiresmill Woodland, West Fife.
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. We have almost finished clearing on top of the kilns and the team have worked very hard to achieve this. We still have some days to finish off, which the lads are looking forward to.
Shiresmill Woods is a woodland thinning project that we are slowly working through; the Shiremill Therapy Riding Centre has a small wooded area on site and we have been working to thin this out so it is more suited for the riders and the volunteers that walk with them. It has been good project as the team can see how their hard work benefits different users of the woodland at Shiresmill.
As well as this the trainees have been working to clear the large overgrown walled garden at Shiresmill. The volunteer group here have big plans for this area, which once was very grand, though they need a bit of extra help to clear it all. The team has been slashing and raking and digging up deer grass to clear the slope.
 We have been back down at Kinneil foreshore in Falkirk tackling the sea buckthorn that is widespread here. The wet weather has shown up a few problems with the paths down there so the trainees have spent a few days clearing out the rain bars and patching up the paths.


iRecord, ID and egrets


Little egrets at Skinflats. Robert Trevis-Smith 


Adam Ross describes what it's like to be an IFLI Training Tomorrow's Talent trainee 

I began my IFLI traineeship four months ago, and in that time I’ve been involved in an amazing range of work both in conservation, and in engaging with the public. It still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of what is a very ambitious, varied and exciting initiative, and I’m looking forward to 2016.
My role involves working primarily on the Forth Nature Counts project, through which we are trying to increase the number of wildlife records for the Inner Forth area. Participant feedback has been incredibly positive, and all of the events were very well attended. Data from iRecord shows a big increase in the number of wildlife records being created in the area, and it’s encouraging to see the project’s aims being realised.
2016’s workshop programme is coming together and we’re currently taking bookings for the first two events - Estuary Bird ID on January 23rd and Winter Tree ID on February 11th. These are both topics where a few easy-to-remember tips can change the way you look at a species and make identification much less daunting. Unlocking a tricky wildlife sighting (a faraway wader or a bare deciduous tree) can often be as easy as knowing a few ‘trademark’ characteristics (curlew bills curve downwards and horse chestnut branches curve upwards)! Please contact us on info@innerforthlandscape.co.uk or 01324 831568 if you would like to attend either of these free events.
I’ve spent the last few weeks maximising the opportunities afforded to me as a trainee by attending a variety of workshops and courses to enhance and develop my skills. These have been really useful opportunities to learn from others and share experiences.
So, overall, I’m having a great time with no risk of getting bored. I’ve been taking time to get outdoors and explore the landscape as much as possible. There are four little egrets on the Skinflats reserve which have become a fairly reliable sighting when I arrive in the morning. It’ll be interesting to see how long they stay. Also, as someone who has never seen a short-eared owl, my optimism (and jealousy) levels have been steadily rising as I hear of more and more sightings on the coastline at this time of year. It would be nice to spot one before Christmas. Fingers-crossed! (Editor’s note: Adam finally saw his first short-eared owl here at Skinflats on his last day at work before the holiday break – so he went home with a nice Christmas present from the inner Forth!)

What’s on!
 

Featured event:

Sat 6 February, 10am - 3pm
Introducing RSPB Black Devon Wetlands

Wetland Adventure Walks at 11am and 2pm (Booking essential)

 
Drop in to RSPB Black Devon Wetlands to learn about the RSPB's newest nature reserve. Over the next few years as part of the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, RSPB Scotland will be working to improve the wetlands for wildlife and make them more accessible for people. Pop down to the marquee on the reserve to learn more about the special wildlife of Black Devon Wetlands, hear about the habitat improvements they will make and perhaps put on your wellies and join in one of the wetland adventures to see firsthand what the RSPB and IFLI are trying to achieve. You can drop in to the marquee at any time but pre-booking of the wetland adventure walks is essential. More details here.

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...

Weds 13 January, 10am - 1pm
Bridgeness Biodiversity Day
Bridgeness Shipbreakers Yard, Bo'ness
Details here.
 
Sat 23 January, 8.45am - 2.45pm
Estuary Bird ID workshop
Blackness Sailing Club Car Park
More details here.
 
Sun 24 January, 10am - 4pm
Painting the Forth art workshop with Darren Woodhead
Clackmannan Town Hall
More details here.

Tues 9 February, 1.30 - 3pm
Guided tour of Kennetpans
Kennetpans, nr Alloa

More details here.

Thurs 11 February, 10am - 1pm
Bridgeness Biodiversity Day
Bridgeness Ship Breakers Yard, Bo'ness

More details here.

Thurs 11 February, 10am - 1pm
Winter Tree ID workshop
Gartmorn Dam Country Park and Nature Reserve, nr Sauchie

More details here.

Fri 10 February, 10am - 4pm
How to plan for and give your orchard a brush-up
Settle Inn, Stirling

More details here.

Weds 17 February, 7 - 9pm
Mapping your heritage with GIS
Clackmannan Town Hall

More details here.

Sun 21 February, 10am - 4pm
Painting the Forth art workshop with Darren Woodhead
Cambuskenneth Village Hall

More details here.

Sun 21 February, 10am - 4pm
How to plan for and give your orchard a brush-up
CLEAR, Buckhaven

More details here.

Thurs 25 February, 7 - 8.30pm
IFLI talk to Tullibody History Group
Tullibody Community Centre

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


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