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Tweed BioBlog – Wednesday 17th October: The College Burn and the other Eden

Wednesday 17th October: Started the day with some scale reading of College Burn Whitling, then a group arrived from the Eden Rivers Trust in Cumbria for a meeting to talk about their draft management plan with us (myself and Kenny). Always interesting to have such a discussion, a source of thought about what we do as much as about what the others do, though I was a bit hampered to start with having had an emergency dental appointment in the early morning which had resulted in a tooth being found guilty and extracted. Finished the day with more College Burn scale reading, which produced some excitement: one fish that had spawned as a “finnock” (i.e. in its first winter after entering the sea as smolt) then had gone back to the sea and not spawned the following winter, so a whole year away before returning for a second time, a very unusual pattern for a Tweed Sea-trout. A second fish had spawned as a “finnock”, then gone back to the sea, returning after just one summer away, so two consecutive returns.  What are called “Finnock” on the West coast are called “Whitling” on most of the rest of the East coast, but “Whitling” on the Tweed means a 1.5 lb to 3lb small Sea-trout that has spent one or two winters away before returning for the first time. “Finnock” are  unusual on the Tweed, but do exist and are called “Blacktails” and I have actually electro-fished a Blacktail in the College Burn, so knew that the sort of life history shown by these two fish was possible, but good to actually find it on scales.