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A Tweed Fisheries Biologist’s Week – Saturday 13th December

Saturday 13th December: On traps duty this week and some good rain last night. Went to the Peebles trap in the afternoon and found that the “magic level” of 25cms of water having been reached, there were 3 Sea-trout (all female) in the trap. This is the latest we have had fish in the trap.

Sunday 14th December: Three more Sea-trout, all female, in the trap, including one of 64cms, which is almost certainly a repeat spawner, going by size. Water a bit down, but fish get trapped for a day or two following the reaching of the “magic level”, which is obviously the amount of water needed to get them running up the burn.

Monday 15th December: Write an analysis of the materials relating to Beavers and fisheries published on the Scotbeavers net website for the RAFTS Beavers Group. Almost everything said on this subject on this website is either misunderstood or just plain, factually, wrong: i.e – creation of habitat for Pike on salmonid spawning streams is not actually a benefit for fisheries ! Simple presence of some salmon fry upstream of Beaver dams is not a sign of free and open access by spawning salmon (and especially when the authors of the original research specifically disclaim such an interpretation being put on it!):  Quote –However most spawning grounds exist in fast-flowing upland streams unsuitable for beavers so that interference with spawning gravels is very unlikely to happen. Beavers dislike fast-flowing rivers and burns (in fact, according to Latvian research, stream velocities above 1metre/second are unsuitable beaver habitat and are avoided ). Actually, salmon spawn at stream velocities of between 0.25 and 0.9 metre / second, so their spawning preferences largely overlap with those of Beavers. (What is not said here is that there  is a Norwegian paper that found that Beavers actually selected Salmon spawning areas in which  to live! ). There’s a good many other such simple factual errors as well. It is not as if it is difficult to find out information on Salmon ecology – a websearch for “salmon ecology” would take anyone almost straight to a publication like “The Ecology of Atlantic Salmon“, one of the Conserving Natura 2000 Rivers series which gives a handy, overall, accountLater,  “participate” in a radio phone-in about Beavers – it really is remarkable what odd ideas people have about Salmon ecology – and about Beavers (which given the sort of stuff put out on Websites like the one above is not, I suppose, surprising). Kenny is on holiday and has broken his ankle playing football – James is still prostrate with flu.

Tuesday 16th December: A planned days fishing to get genetics samples cancelled due to high water. An interview with Border TV about Beavers. Get some data entry done and out to check the traps – some small brownies in both. Passing through Galashiels try to switch the Gala counter back on, but pressed the wrong button and didn’t have the key to get into the cabinet.

Wednesday 17th December: Working on the application for the annual licence to cull Goosanders and Cormorants during the smolt season. James back and out to deal with the counters. A grand total of four people at the Christmas dinner, four others having called in sick  (James didn’t feel up to it)

Thursday 18th December: Out early to do the traps – water not up, no fish.  In the office rest of the day trying to make some sort of semblance of a clear desk before the holidays. James over in Glasgow at a meeting about methods to survey Signal Crayfish.

Friday 19th December: Weekly staff meeting in the morning. Out with James after lunch to the traps. Packed up the Cardrona one, water rising there and probably going to be a major spate. There was a spent or part spent female Sea-trout in it. Could be more coming but it takes two to dismantle that trap and James is going to be the only one here next week. Another Sea-trout in the Peebles trap, again a partly spent female. Will keep this trap going for a few days more as it can be mothballed by one person.

Now the traps are finished, not much of interest going on, so a break in this blog till things start moving again.