What do you think of Black Devon Wetlands?


Have you visited RSPB Black Devon Wetlands Nature Reserve? If so would you be able to spare a few minutes to let the RSPB know what you thought about it? Since the RSPB signed the lease for Black Devon Wetlands from Clackmannanshire council in 2015, major works have occurred to improve it for both wildlife and people. IFLI played a big part in getting the reserve up and running and have helped fund many of the projects on the reserve to aid in improving access and visitor experience, including the new and improved path network, the beautiful viewing screen and the new pond dipping platform.

The reserve has been ‘officially’ open for almost a whole year now, and with so many changes the RSPB would like to hear your thoughts. This quick survey will give them an idea of what they are doing right at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands and what they could improve on in the future. All surveys are completely anonymous and any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

The link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8JVSJQN

Image: The spectacular Black Devon Wetlands viewing screen. David Palmar/www.photoscot.co.uk

IFLI Events and Outreach Assistant says goodbye


Nicholas Reid, our IFLI Events and Outreach Assistant, who many people who have attended IFLI events will have met, has sadly now come to the end of his contract. He worked with us for 18 months as part of our Training Tomorrow's Talent project, which has allowed IFLI and our partners to employ a number of people at the beginning of their careers in natural and cultural heritage, to help kick-start their progress, and give them opportunities for training and experience.

Nicholas has been a fantastic member of the IFLI team, and will be very much missed by us all, not only for his excellent communications and organisational skills, but for his great sense of humour and early-morning coffee making! Writing about his time here, Nicholas says:

'I’ve very much enjoyed my time at IFLI – not only because I’ve been lucky enough to be part in such an interesting and important project, but because I’ve had countless opportunities to learn and develop, both professionally, in terms of my work experience, and personally, as I’ve learnt so much about the heritage and history at this part of the world. It’s given me a new way of looking at the area where I grew up, and has introduced me to places further afield. I can also now confidently identify up to four species of bird, which is actually a dramatic improvement from when I started. On top of this I’ve also had to chance to work with some excellent and passionate people; those in the IFLI team and in national organisations like the RSPB and local groups like Braveheart.

Although I am sad to be leaving, I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career, and can look back fondly at the last 18 months.'

We wish Nicholas all the very best for his future. He'll be an asset to any organisation that he works for, and we look forward to hearing how his career progresses.

Conference to connect citizen scientists across Scotland

Volunteer-led citizen science will be in the spotlight this February.  Citizen scientists are volunteers who keep and share records of some or all of the wildlife species that they see, to help inform conservation and environmental research.  The Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI) is partnering Buglife Scotland, Stirling Council and The Wildlife Information Centre to organise a conference called From Source to Resource: Making Biological Records Count, at Alloa Academy on Saturday 10 February. The event will look at the journey that wildlife records make between the recorder and species recording schemes, then onward to inform work to restore, conserve and save species and landscapes, and is aimed at recorders, verifiers and anyone interested in or working in the fields of biological recording, citizen science and environmental conservation in Scotland.

 Image: Paul Barclay/Inner Forth Landscape Initiative

This free conference will celebrate volunteer participation in monitoring the UK’s nature, help members of the biological recording community across Scotland to make connections, and provide updates from practitioners and projects in the area. There will be something for anyone involved in this field or who is interested in Scotland’s natural heritage. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) Dr Mark Eaton will give a keynote talk on the recent State of Nature report, and the use of volunteer-generated data.  As well as the talks there will be morning and afternoon parallel break-out sessions ensuring that everyone, whether you are fascinated by birds or mammals, aquatic life or lichens, can feed their interests and develop new knowledge.

Within the programme, attendees will have time to browse a dedicated display area where you will be able to network, learn more about a wide range of wildlife recording schemes in Scotland, and find out how to get involved in a variety of ways.

The organisers are particularly keen to encourage volunteers and other people involved in biological recording and citizen science to attend, whether you contribute regular or ad-hoc wildlife records, act as a verifier or Vice County Recorder, or undertake fieldwork to further knowledge of sites. The day is also ideal for students and people who are new to wildlife recording and looking to develop their confidence, knowledge and skills. Tickets are free of charge for all attendees but advance booking is essential. 

Commenting on the conference, IFLI’s Community Engagement Officer, Kate Fuller said: ‘This conference, in the central belt of Scotland between the River Forth and the Ochil Hills, is an exciting way to share and celebrate the diversity of species that are found within Scotland, and to recognise the valuable work by volunteers and other practitioners who monitor and record the state of the natural world around us. The day will look at how records move between the recorder, verifier and are then available and used by organisations and practitioners who research or seek to restore and conserve species and landscapes. We invite you to join us for an enjoyable and eye-opening day.’

To find out more about the conference you can visit the IFLI website at http://www.innerforthlandscape.co.uk/eventscal/2014-11-04-09-43-23/16-recording-celebrating/740-from-source-to-resource or book your free place via the Eventbrite page at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/source-to-resource-making-biological-records-count-registration-41236199583 Details of the morning and afternoon parallel break-out sessions will be available in early January.

Team effort puts new pond dipping platform in place at Black Devon Wetlands

Over 250 hours of work have gone into installing a new boardwalk and pond dipping platform at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands Nature Reserve, near Alloa.

Assistant Warden Ami on the completed boardwalk. Photo: RSPB

The work was carried out by a combination of local volunteers and RSPB and IFLI staff, and was funded by the Initiative, through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The result is a fantastic resource that can be used by local schools, youth groups, families and anyone else that would like to discover more about the hidden wildlife that lives beneath the water there. It also serves to highlight the variety of habitats that a site like RSPB Black Devon can support.

The pond dipping platform is actually the first of four that will be constructed on site between now and March, when the area will be opened up to the public. RSPB staff will also be working closely with local schools to help them get the most out of these great new facilities.

Ami Kirkbright, RSPB Inner Forth Assistant Warden, commented: "We are so excited to have completed the boardwalk and the first pond dipping platform. RSPB Black Devon Wetlands is an amazing place to engage with people, being just a short walk from central Alloa. It has so much to offer in terms of wildlife, and although the ponds were only created 16 months ago, they are already brimming with hugh numbers of insects, fish and newts. The platforms will make it easier and safer and for children to investigate the ponds with their nets and get a closer look at what wonderful wildlife has taken up residence here at Black Devon Wetlands.

We couldn't have completed this in record time without all the amazing help from our volunteers, who contributed over 100 hours of their time to help us. Other RSPB staff and the IFLI team also came to help us on their volunteer work days - thank you all so much!"

A volunteer party at work on the boardwalk. Photo: David Palmar

Although the ponds are relatively quiet during the winter, and there is still more to build, the RSPB and IFLI will be celebrating the opening of the new platforms and amazing wildlife in the Spring, so keep an eye on the RSPB and IFLI websites for up-coming events, where Ami and the RSPB team will be putting the pond dipping platforms to good use.

Find out more about the Reserve on the RSPB website.

Work Experience With IFLI

My name is Jayden Read.  I am a 15 year old boy in high school right now.  I live in Scotland in a small town called Tillicoultry with my parents, brother and sister.  In my spare time I’m usually laying around in my room or messing around with my friends.  We used to live around a lot of trees which I would climb a lot, this got me interested in things to do with the environment.  This was a big reason why I asked the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, or IFLI for short, to take me in for a week of work experience.

I was given a timetable that showed what I was going to be doing throughout the week and the variety of activities I would be doing.

During my week of work experience I walked around the Gartmorn Dam to identify different species of bird which was very cold but worth it because now I have a lot more knowledge on different kinds of birds.  We wrote down where the different species of bird were on our map by using codes for the different birds.  We saw well over 20 different species during our walk around the dam.  It was a nice experience to see tons of different colors on different birds.

We also went to Bridgeness to clear some bushes to make the place more habitable for animals.  When we were there we made a little hedgehog den out of some sticks that turned out decent. 

I wrote about the robin and put the information on the IFLI site and found out some interesting information about it like that they are associated with Christmas because the postmen who gave out Christmas cards in Victorian Britain wore red clothes and got the nickname robin so the robin on the cards represent the postmen. 

We went to go open up the sluice at RSPB Skinflats but then realised that there was something stopping us from opening it so instead of doing that we went to some cameras that were set up to take pictures of the birds and got quite a lot of good pictures from it.

And on my last day we went to finish of a boardwalk at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands which has been a very long project and we also cut up some willow trees so we could use them to block off areas around a view point so nobody can disturb the animals on the other side.

All in all, it was a fun, interesting and cold experience, the team was very nice to me and I’m glad that I came here for my work experience.  It has given me a bigger idea of what I want to choose as a career for when I’m older.