Mixed day; sawbills, pine marten, smolt trap, ITV, loggers and the Upper Livet

We had  an early start this morning for the sawbill duck count, followed by some tinkering with the Avon smolt trap then up to the Dulnain to download the temperature loggers and give them their annual battery change.

Myself and Steve counted the river between Blackboat and Craigallachie recording 11 goosanders and very little else. We do this section by road and on foot. Whilst walking opposite Lower Pitchroy I had a really good view of a pine marten on the other side. I first noticed it moving along the concrete walkway at Dalgarven Pool. They have a langid but menacing presence as they move. There were two oystercatchers on the grass above the walkway and I had the impression the marten fancied one as a meal. I thought the birds were on to him and the marten obviously agreed leaving them in peace. I was quite surprised at the size of that animal. I reckon it was the same length as Rogie, although nowhere near the weight.

The Avon has been dropping over the last few days and we have had to lift the trap to avoid contact with the bottom. After a bit of surveying we concluded that it was between 4-6″ deeper about 10m upstream so we relocated the trap. No smolts today but it is early days yet.

At lunchtime I went with Steve to show him the temperature logger location on the two Dulnain tributaries. We are now using Tinytag Aquatic loggers which are exceptionally user friendly. The only problem was cracking the loggers open to change the battery. The top screws off but of course it was just too tight to undo by hand. Not to be undone we searched for a forked branch with appropriate angle to grip the flats on the top. A suitable birch was soon found and the top unscrewed. Next time I will take a tool. Batteries changed on both we headed back downstream.

With a couple hours left of the afternoon I diverted to have a look at a section of the middle/upper Livet and the lower Blye.

Livet mainstem above Allanreid. Great salmon habitat, just missing afew trees.

Livet mainstem above Allanreid. Great salmon habitat, just missing a few trees.

The habitat downstream of the photo is ideal for parr but there were no classic spawning fords. However the gradient upstream looked promising.

Low gradient such as in this photo usually means the presence of spawning gravels.

Gradient of this inclination usually means the presence of spawning gravels.

Good gravels downstream of eroding bank. These gravel sources are vital for the productivity of a salmon river.

Good gravels downstream of eroding bank. These gravel sources are vital for the productivity of a salmon river.

The old farmhouse above the bank was in iminent danger of collapse. This area is litered with abandoned buildings, presumably the remains of smaller farms now merged into larger units.

The old farmhouse above the bank was in imminent danger of collapse. This area is littered with abandoned buildings, presumably the remains of smaller farms now merged into larger units.

River Livet/Blye Water confluence

River Livet/Blye Water confluence. the Blye joins flowing against the flow of the Livet. Pretty nice looking junction pool. This whole area of the Livet looks like a major spawning area; must pay a visit back here late in November.

The Blye has been mentioned on the blog before in a stocking thread. I had electrofished the middle and upper reaches twice but never looked at the bottom end.

Lower Blye flows through a conifer plantation which has a generous buffer strip.

Lower Blye flows through a conifer plantation which has a generous buffer strip. Plenty deer here judging by the profile of the lower branches.

There are a few conifers close to the burn but nothing to worry about.

There are a few conifers close to the burn but nothing to worry about.

Above the plantation the Blye flows through rough grazing. This part of the burn supports an abundant fish population, mostly trout with salmon in the lower half.

Nice habitat in the Blye Water. Most people would be astounded if they could see how many fish this burn supports.

Nice habitat in the Blye Water. Most people would be astonished if they could see how many fish this burn supports. Rogie flushed a white hare here but he never saw it. Their ability to run quickly whilst crouching down always impresses.

The Livet above the Blye confluence.

The Livet above the Blye confluence. Prime salmon habitat. These walks are very helpful to me in learning the spey catchment – still a lot of river to cover yet.

A very mixed day today. The ITV tale may be revealed later!

 

 

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