Tuesday, 22 February 2011

All Quiet on the Eastern Front?

Apologies for there not being a post for some time, but this is not because Georgia and I have been lazing about doing nothing (although, I must admit that we have both been off on leave for a while, so there has been a certain amount of that going on...but not during working hours, of course!). We have, in fact, been pretty busy getting all sorts of things tidied up before the end of the financial year (which is the end of Feb for us at the Trust).

Those with a keen eye will notice that we have had the decorators in, painting the toilet and visitor centre floors and external doors and windows. I have also got them to paint the ceiling of the visitor centre white, so that any light (natural or electrical) is reflected back into the room making it less dark and dingy as it was by the previously dark brown ceiling. In addition, I have had motion sensors fitted, so that the display lights will only be on when they are needed. So all in all we should have reduced our carbon footprint as well as our electricity bills.

Late last year we had the various buildings we own at St Abbs audited by the Energy Saving Trust, so that they could advise us on ways to cut our carbon footprint. I am pleased to say that they were impressed on how small a carbon output we have, and, save a few little tweaks like more insulation and draught proofing, we are doing all the right things. Great news, as because the Trust is a conservation charity, we are always striving to practice what we preach. And climate change is already having a discernible effect on the heritage we are here to protect, both natural and built, so anything we can do to slow the process has got to be good.

Speaking of weather, the volunteers and I have been filling some of the pots holes in the track up to the office, using stone chippings, as it was getting even more rutted than usual. Later in the year, we will fill the holes on the lighthouse track, which are numerous after the freeze/thaw of winter, with tarmac. But there is no point in doing it until the weather is warmer and dryer.

What else? Myself and one of the Trust's Nature Conservation Advisers have been reassessing the management of our grasslands both here at St Abb's Head but also on the piece of land we own up towards Dowlaw. We may take these grasslands for granted but the habitats and species they support are nationally and internationally important. And at the moment there are some areas that are overgrazed and some that are undergrazed and some that are just right (that reminds me of a story from my youth!). So we are looking into what we can do to try and rectify this. And with the topography we have here forming a mosaic of thin soiled knowes (small hills) with thicker soiled areas in between (as shown very nicely on the aerial photo above) its not going to be easy!

We are also in the process of recruiting a new Seasonal Ranger for this year. We had a good crop of applicants and are interviewing next week with a view to them starting towards the end of March. And we have been progressing with our plans for our pARTicipate project, where we will be celebrating the wildlife and environment of St Abbs through all sorts of art, including collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a local visual artist.

Meanwhile, Georgia is in the last throws of putting together a dive guide for the VMR, which is looking great.

So, lots of stuff going on you see, just in a quiet sort of way!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

First beach clean of the year at the VMR!

Thanks to the volunteers who came yesterday for a beach clean and litter survey of Linkim Shore, one of the largest beaches in the Marine Reserve. It is also one of the most inaccessible in terms of hauling large amounts of beach litter away, but we managed it!

Winter storms had brought in large quantities of rubbish, including 4 fish boxes, 5 car tyres and 6 creels (lobster pots), along with all the smaller plastic items, such as drinks bottles and pieces of fishing net. As usual, all the items collected were surveyed and the results sent off to the Marine Conservation Society so they can tackle the problem of marine litter at source.

As you can see from the photo, it wasn’t all hard work, and the fish boxes provided an excellent improvised picnic table for a well earned coffee and chocolate biscuit break!