New Biologist for the Dee – Jamie Urquhart
I have just joined the team as the new River Dee Trust Biologist. I’ve previously worked as Biologist for the River Don Trust 2009-13 and prior to that worked with the University of Aberdeen across the NE on the Water Vole Conservation and Mink Control Project (presently the Scottish Mink Initiative). Some of you may be more familiar with me from this work and without this beard, but that’s a story for another time. I now reside in Kemnay but have lived, studied and worked in the in the NE for the past 14 years. I originally hail from Sutherland where I grew up fishing and shooting on the rivers and sporting estates surrounding the Helmsdale, Brora and Fleet.
I’m delighted to be part of the River Dee Team and I’m looking forward to the new challenges ahead. It’s my duty to continue the excellent work that has been undertaken by the River Dee Trust and expand upon this by creating, delivering and monitoring research, restoration and education programmes integral to the work of the Fishery Management Plan (FMP).
My work will include monitoring changes in fish populations, analysing data to inform restoration programmes and disseminating information to stakeholders. I will be responsible for leading a work programme to remove invasive species and conduct an educational programme for school children across the Dee, Cowie and Carron catchments.
My existing experience as a biologist has given me an excellent grounding in this type of role. Here with the River Dee Team I look forward to utilising this knowledge and understanding to develop and expand my role whilst integrating the actions of the FMP with local communities, organisations and landowners where appropriate. I look forward to working closely with the New Dee Catchment Outreach Officer Joanna Dick, whose role it is to encourage interest, understanding and responsible use of the River Dee and raise awareness of river-related issues. Working under the line management of Dr Lorraine Hawkins the Trust Manager will be a great opportunity to expand my understanding of the work already delivered by the Dee Trust and create novel and pertinent research projects.
My first week in the post has already been very interesting after attending the Coy burn counter on Tuesday with Lorraine for a battery change and data dump where the counter revealed a number of upstream passes for trout and some early salmon movement. More significant salmon movements are to be expected during November when the typical runs are evident on the Coy Burn so watch this space.
On the Wednesday we hosted students from the SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College at Craibstone, where we took them around the catchment to illustrate some of the previous work undertaken by the Dee Board and Trust on the EU Life Project Conserving Atlantic Salmon in Scotland (CASS).
The SRUC students had the opportunity to witness first hand the work undertaken to reduce diffuse pollution such as buffer strip fencing installation and silt traps, coppicing work to improve light penetration and habitat improvements such as rubble matt addition to create salmon parr habitat. The tributaries of the Beltie, Cattie, Coy and Feugh were visited where during 2004-08 over 37km of buffer strips with watering stations were installed, 25000m2 of in-stream boulders addition,60 silt traps were created and maintained and 21km of coppicing undertaken. The five students were delighted to see the changes apparent from the before images to what they were witnessing on site. Lorraine also explained about the data gathered by the River Dee Trust which was used to support the improvement works, such as the electro fishing data.
Thursday saw us attending the Atlantic Salmon Fishery Board (ASFB) and the River and Fishery Trusts for Scotland (RAFTS) AGM. I travelled down with Mark Bilsby the River Director and Lorraine Hawkins the Trust Manager to Perth for the day. Both AGM’s went well with main focus being upon the moving on of RAFTS CEO Callum Sinclair who will be leaving RAFTS in late Nov to work with the Trust for Conservation Volunteers, we wish him all the best in the new role.
We were also joined by John Armstrong from the Marine Scotland Science Freshwater Lab at Pitlochry who gave a presentation upon Marine Renewables and the work presently underway to understand the impacts of, monitor and mitigate for the construction and running phases of these large scale projects around our coast and how they may impact the migratory fish returning to or leaving from our rivers. All very interesting but unfortunately limited results can be released by the freshwater laboratory at this stage.
Friday was spent preparing an article with the Dee Catchment Outreach Officer Joanna Dick for the Deeside Piper, focusing upon what’s happening around the river at this time of year. So keep your eyes peeled for next week’s Deeside Piper edition.
Well that’s all from me it’s been a very interesting first week in the new post and I’m looking forward to many more. I’ll be keeping you posted on my work and that of the Trust on a regular basis through the Blog and through our Twitter account @RiverDeeTeam so sign up and follow us now.