River Cruick survey a surprise

MARINE Scotland Science Freshwater Laboratory received on loan earlier this year a 4’ rotary screw trap from the Atlantic Salmon Trust.

It was placed in the River Cruick in the spring in order to count the emigrating salmon and sea trout smolts. Counting began in April when the main sea trout smolt run began and it found 268 smolt and 152 parr during the months in the river. Salmon smolts came later and in all 667 smolt and 27 par were recorded.

As many readers will be aware I have been worried about the state of the Cruick of recent times, but this pleases me as this is quite a reasonable figure for such a small stream.

Mr Thomson at Mill of Balrownie further pleased me when two weeks ago he found a recently killed salmon of around 10 lbs on the bank.

This was undoubtedly the work of an otter as the portion behind the head had been eaten,. The following day the carcass was completely stripped.

Besides the pleasing reporting of salmon in mature and yearling stages the presence of otters is a sign that there is a source of food there for them.

The population of otters in our area is as strong as in living memory and reports come in at least weekly from the two Esks and the West Water.

I have also been surveying the Cruick for signs of American mink with I must admit little success but if you live on or frequent the banks of this river please phone me on 01356622753 and I will pass on the information to the mink control officer.

If the river is short on water voles, moorhens and ducks then this is a pointer of the presence of mink and it is hoped to try to get the population of this invasive species under control before we lose our natural populations.

I have been trapping just below the town on the South Esk and have succeeded in trapping four in the last month.

My trap placed adjacent to a clay bank used by sand martins, who, I suspect, failed to raise any young due to attacks by mink.

Their presence was also the reason for the failure of any of the mallard ducks in River Street to raise even a single duckling, all being killed by these aggressive creatures.

A final word on the Cruick. I would like to hear from readers if they have anything at all to report on its obvious resurgence. Please contact me at the above number.

Tight Lines,

by Bill Balfour.