Freshwater Environment Trip to Loch of Strathbeg & River Dee
One of the modules included in the Countryside Management HND course is Freshwater Environments: Management and Protection. Scotland is a wet country with plenty of rain, as everyone knows, and so finding freshwater is not hard to do.
Two field trips were undertaken in order for the students to see the management techniques they were learning about being used in real situations. The first of these was a visit to the RSPB’s Loch of Strathbeg reserve.
Nestled on the north-east corner of Scotland behind the sand dunes that shelter it from the north sea, Loch of Strathbeg offers a place to breed, feed and rest to thousands of wildfowl throughout the year. The rich patchwork of wetland habitats offered by the site is what draws in the spectacular numbers of birds and other wildlife.
One key aspect of the trip was to see the restorative work that had been carried out on the Burn of Savoch; re-meandering, recreation of lost wetland habitats, and catchment management involving nearby landowners. It was also nice to meet the Konik pony herd that keep the rushes from taking over the wet pasture!
The second trip was to a section of the River Dee with the River Dee Trust to greater understand some of the catchment management techniques that had been put in place to improve the quality of the water further downstream and the habitats found within the river, both for people and for wildlife.
These ranged from addressing point source pollution such as sedimentation of minor tributaries by cattle, to limiting diffuse pollution by run-off from agricultural fields. Habitat management for Atlantic Salmon was a key part of the trip as well and the students saw some of the areas of the River Dee that had been “re-bouldered” to recreate habitat for salmon spawning.
To finish the day on a high note, the students were lucky enough to see a large cock salmon close-up at the edge of the river, not something that can be guaranteed!
The students would like to say thank you to Lorna Dow, RSPB, and Jamie Urquhart, River Dee Trust, for demonstrating the techniques that are used to manage freshwater environments more sustainably and for pointing out some brilliant wildlife along the way.