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Summer Newsletter 2019
Cuairt-litir an t-Samhraidh

In this issue;
  • Meet our new staff
  • Mink dispersal
  • Species spotlight: Himalayan balsam
  • News and Events
  • Volunteer chat
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A welcome to our new seasonal staff
We'd like to welcome Scott Galbraith and Jane Hamilton to the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative for the summer. They both joined us in July as Seasonal Project Officers and have already got stuck into invasive species control work and working with volunteer groups.
Scott is working with the Findhorn, Nairn & Lossie fisheries trust, supporting Project Officer James predominately across the Moray area, and Jane is working with Project Officer Mark, on the Esk and Tay catchments in Perthshire and Angus. 
The mink are on the move, and we need your help!
As we come into August juvenile mink are on the move. These young mink are leaving their mothers and dispersing across the countryside as they strike out on their own. 
From research work by the University of Aberdeen we know that 90% of juvenile mink disperse, with the average distance travelled by these mink being 20km, however we know that 20% of these mink will disperse a staggering distance of 80km or more. That means a young mink from Aberdeen could travel as far as Elgin!

The impact and consequences of this are significant for mink control as these dispersing mink (especially a young female) could take up a territory in a different river catchment that might have been previously cleared of breeding mink. So over the coming months we need your help to be vigilant for the presence of mink. 
If you've already got a mink raft, please make sure it's in good condition and the clay is okay and try and check it for prints over the next few months. This is the time when you might get a mink presence, even if you've never had any signs before. 
We also have hot-spots where we need more mink monitoring rafts out to ensure we have a good network coverage.  We'll provide the raft and help you set it up, you just need to check it every couple of weeks for footprints. Read more about mink rafts here.
If you are in one of these areas (or have a friend who is), you could really help us, and your local wildlife, by monitoring a mink raft;
  • The North East Coast - any coastal location from Burghead to Fraserburgh, including; Lossiemouth, Buckie, Portsoy, Banff.  Also Peterhead and the coastline down to Forvie nature reserve
  • The Aberdeenshire Coast - from Aberdeen to Stonehaven including Muchalls, Newtonhill and Cove, and from Stonehaven to Inverbervie
  • Donside - Inverurie, Kintore, Blackburn to Dyce and the Old Rayne / Insch area
  • Speyside - Aberlour, Ballindalloch, Cromdale & Grantown-on-Spey
  • The Black Isle - Cromarty, Invergordon, Alness and Evanton
If you can help, please contact us by email; sisi@nature.scot
Species spotlight: Himalayan balsam
Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glanulifera) was introduced into Kew Gardens 180 years ago (1839) and within 16 years it was noted to be established and growing in the wild.  It spreads rapidly by seed and once established soon takes over, growing up to 2m tall and forming dense stands.
A single plant can produce about 800 seeds, 12 to 14 weeks after flowering. The seeds are enclosed within an explosive seed capsule - when mature these capsules react to the slightest disturbance, causing the five segments to split along their length, then curl up and twist, projecting the seeds up to 7m away.

The black, round seeds are about 2-3mm and remain viable in the soil's seed bank for about 2 years. The seeds are buoyant and can travel long distances along waterways to invade new areas.

Himalayan balsam grows in dense stands and it shades out and crowds out many native species.  It produces much nectar and therefore is attractive to pollinating insects, possibly to the detriment of native flowering plants (which are no longer visited by these insects and thus don’t get pollinated). 

It dominates riverbanks, and in the winter when it dies back its shallow root system is no help in stabilising the bare bank, which is then at risk of erosion.  Dense stands can also impede the water flow at times of high rainfall, increasing the likelihood of flooding.

Removing Himalayan balsam is straightforward as it has a shallow root system and can easily be pulled out of the ground by hand.

However, it is rather labour intensive - so many hands make light work!
 
We'd love to hear from any community groups, schools or corporate groups who'd like to come out and do some balsam pulling in their local community. Please get in touch! 
News & Events
Gaelic welcome to volunteers
Tha am fiosrachadh againn do shaor-thoilich ri fhaotainn sa Ghàidhlig a-nis. Ma tha thu airson pàirt a ghabhail nar pròiseact àrd-amasach, bidh fàilte chridheil romhad! 
Our information for volunteers in now available in Gaelic. If you’d like to take part in our ambitious project, you’d be very welcome! 
Update on our hogweed munching sheep at work
It's three months since the sheep went into their trial site - so are they doing what we hoped? 

Read more
Events
Get involved or say hello!
You can meet the team at several shows and fairs over the summer, or come along to a conservation volunteer event, such as Himalayan balsam pulling.
Details of conservation events here.
Events at a glance
11 & 12 Aug - Keith show
Tues 13 Aug - Perth, balsam pulling 
Fri 23 Aug - Nairn, balsam pulling
Volunteer Chat
That's another Giant hogweed treatment season over, so we'd like to specifically thank all our regular and new volunteers for all their efforts in helping us control this nasty plant.
Over 170 people have contributed to giant hogweed spraying work so far this season and together we've made a significant impact on tackling the invasion of hogweed along our rivers. 

We are delighted to have put another 24 of our volunteers through their spraying qualifications (PA1/PA6) so far this year - well done everyone!
Please speak to your local Project Officer / fishery trust contact if you'd like more information about getting your spraying qualifications and helping us treat invasive plants.

A big thank you to all our volunteers for your hard work so far this year. 
Find out more about volunteering with our project
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The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) is a 4-year partnership project, led by Scottish Natural Heritage and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with the University of Aberdeen and ten fishery trusts/boards as partners.
Images; SNH
Copyright © 2019 SISI All rights reserved.

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