A welcome return to Dollar Academy!

Higher pupils from Dollar Academy were out at Loch Leven NNR last week as part of their Managing Environmental Resources course.  The field trip has become an annual event in which they have the opportunity to learn more about changes in land use at Loch Leven through the ages, and about the wide variety of issues that arise from land use conflicts.  We also discussed the process of natural succession, and the importance of managing habitats for wildlife, with Levenmouth ‘mudflats’ providing an excellent example of grass-cutting taking place in order to prevent succession encroaching a wetland area.  After the morning session with me they went over to Burleigh with their teacher, Shiona Scott, to conduct some soil and vegetation sampling for analysis back at school.

Dollar pupils rest for lunch after exploring the reserve.

Dollar pupils rest for lunch after exploring the reserve.

We had a look around Levenmouth woods, where there are still lots of fruiting fungi out on display,

Boletus sp.

Boletus sp.

Lactarius sp.

Lactarius sp.

and had another look at the rare Mudwort, as discovered the week before by Steve.  Any mycologists out there fancy helping out with more accurate identification of the two pictured above?

Mudwort

Mudwort

We also discovered a few collections of droppings, which looked distinctly like Water Vole latrines.  Water Voles will usually use the same spot either near their burrows, or on the edge of their territory.

Water Vole latrine

Water Vole latrine

The pupils also expressed an interest in helping out with some reserve management tasks in the future, as part of their eco-group.  With a variety of volunteer tasks coming up this winter, including a large scale tree planting project along the Heritage Trail, we’re looking forward to welcoming them back to assist with this at some point soon.

A variety of school groups have been in over the last month or so, including the whole of S1 at Kinross High School visiting Castle Island and RSPB over two days, and smaller groups of children from the local area participating in the Big Draw, being co-ordinated by artist James Gow on behalf of Historic Scotland.

Last year's group assisted with loads of tasks, including the 'Flagging up the Issue' project last spring.

Last year’s Conservation in Action group from Kinross High School.

We’re also hopeful that last year’s ‘Conservation in Action’ group may soon be brought back to life, with members of staff at Kinross High School keen to kick-start this connection as a way of providing pupils with a rare opportunity to get hands-on conservation experience locally.  I hope to be able to report more on this later this year.

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
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