It’s been a productive few weeks at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands with new floating islands on the fresh water pools and an etched floor stone in the viewing screen. This blog was written by Ami Kirkbright who did some brilliant work on the reserve covering for Hannah whilst she was was away on secondment. Ami has gone off to her new job as Wildlife Information and Education Officer for the RSPB at Aberfoyle Forest Lodge in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Floating islands

Thanks to funding from the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI), we are extremely lucky to now have to two amazing floating bio-havens on the reserve. These artificial floating islands mimic natural islands and provide habitat for nesting birds, foraging insects and emergent amphibians. Not only that but they also produce a “concentrated wetland” effect, actually cleaning the water they float in! On the reserve, these islands will be a safe haven for nesting species away from land predators and will be a huge asset to the pools at Black Devon.

The floating islands were designed and manufactured by Biomatrix Water Solutions Ltd, a Scotland based company who specialise in floating ecosystems for waste water treatment, improving water quality and increasing biodiversity. More information about their amazing work can be found out on their website.

With help from our amazing team of volunteers we assembled the 14 pieces of floating islands (like a jigsaw) into two kidney shaped masterpieces. We chose this shape as it provides shelter from different angles, especially the prevailing wind.

We then planted them up with native flowers, grasses and sedges keeping in mind the species in which we want to attract, such as ducks, dragonflies and possibly some amphibians. Hopefully in a couple of years the islands will have greened up nicely. They currently have fencing around the edges which is to prevent swans from using them too soon before the plants have had a chance to root and develop, although this will eventually be removed. We also experimented by putting a clay based aggregate called Leca® on half of one of the islands to see what may possibly use that area as a nesting site. The Leca® will mimic shingle which is the kind of nesting habitat favoured by seabirds. We are most likely to see black-headed gulls using this but we will keep our fingers crossed for terns!

Watch this space to see how it develops over the next few years and keep your eyes peeled for what species end up using this new bit of habitat.

Viewing Screen Stone

Another really cool recent installation is the creatively designed floor stone that now sits in the viewing screen. We started to notice that water was dripping off the roof and eroding the floor fairly drastically. We thought a creative solution would be to put a stone in the middle to disperse the water and also show off some of the local resident’s foot prints.

Our only hurdle was how to move it once it was delivered. Weighing in at a quarter of a ton, it was a feat of engineering to get it from our reserve office in Skinflats out to Alloa and in the ground. Luckily, with help from Fraser Lamont, RSPB Inversnaid Warden, his deer hoist as well as some persuasion from a couple of pinch bars – we did it!

It was beautifully designed by Hannah Sharratt, Assistant Warden for the Forth Reserves (with footprints to scale I might add) and created by Tradstocks stone suppliers, near Stirling, who have done a wonderful job!

The stone should slow the erosion of the viewing screen floor, it should also be aided by the green roof that will be installed on the screen.

On Friday the 13th of April, our conservation work party helped us to rid the floor of the viewing screen of weeds and moss. We also resurfaced it so the whole area looks more appealing and enhances the stone.