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February 2014 East Lothian Countryside News

Mud in your eye! Out & About 1-5

Wildlife & Biodiversity 6-9

How you can help – Volunteers 10-12

Pass the spade, not the cake!

Good news! If you want to shed off some excess pounds / get fitter in a free, lively, non-competitive, rewarding, environmental and health promoting way, we have just the thing for you! Our volunteers are a healthy bunch, precisely because – in part – of their contribution to the work they undertake for the Countryside Service.

Out & About

Whether it is hiking round to check on the welfare of grazing animals, helping out on a path improvement task, hacking down scrub or repairing a section of dyking, volunteers are burning calories all the time. They are also doing it in an atmosphere – the outdoors – that has been proven time and time again to bring a myriad of benefits to your emotional well-being as well as your physical health. We all know how going for a walk in the fresh air helps us relax and put whatever stresses we are under into a more measured context; well just imagine how good you’ll feel if you combine this with the positive feelings you’ll have knowing you are undertaking some work that is helping your local environment too! Think that the physical benefits are not as great as I suggest? Here are some stats to back it up. 2


Calories used per hour (for an average person)

Using the computer






Playing with the kids


Walking (3mph)








Out & About

Now I’m not advocating we all take up jogging here, but you can see that someone going out for an hour’s jog will burn up less energy than those trusty volunteers who are out for a morning cutting sea buckthorn. If you can start to build in this type of activity into your current lifestyle you will quickly see the rewards. It’s also an excellent excuse for not doing house work; “I’d love to help but I’ll burn more calories outdoors!” There’s even more incentive for those of you who do little exercise to come and join us. The greatest health benefits are experienced by those who are currently inactive who then become moderately active. Even those of

you who are suffering from sleep deprivation will find that a day out with us will pretty much guarantee you a better night’s kip. So what’s stopping you? Our volunteers come in all sizes, age 16-80+ and are a fantastic bunch. You’ll find details of what they do and where in the rear section of this issue. Any unanswered questions, please just email me. Duncan Priddle Countryside Officer


Out & About

Access and Golf Courses Public access on golf courses is an emotive subject. According to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, access rights don’t apply to golf courses. What it does say, though, is that the public have a right to cross a golf course, but other recreational activities, such as having a picnic, are not permitted on the course. It takes quite a bit of digging through the Act to come to that conclusion, though! The situation is further complicated by rights of way and core paths, but in general on you only have a right to cross a golf course, and only then if you are being responsible and not disturbing the game of golf. Golf greens are excluded from access rights. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code also advises that cyclists and horse riders must keep to paths at all times and advises walkers to follow paths where they exist. Christopher Spencer, Managing Secretary of North Berwick Golf Club and Member of East Lothian’s Local Access Forum, says, “Everyone has the right to cross the course be it to the beach or other area. Please take great care and allow the golfer to play their shot. They have as much right to be there as you do.” Many walkers are non-golfers, and unless

you are aware of the layout of the course, you may not know which direction to look. Even if you do, you should always take account of stray shots! If you heard someone shout “fore” when walking on a golf course would you know what to do? The advice is ‘duck down and cover your head’, as this is a warning that a golf ball is heading in your direction. Don’t, whatever you, do turn towards where the shout is coming from! We certainly don’t want to put you off walking across a golf course, but by understanding the issues everyone will have a more pleasant day out. For further information on your access rights and responsibilities, see the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website:

East Lothian Council’s Outdoor Access Officers: Nick Morgan, tel. 01620 827671 Jennifer Lothian, tel. 01620 827419 Email: 4

Out & About

Hikes 2014 Sunday 23 February

The Saltire Circuit A long distance 20km (12 mile) circular walk, starting at Athelstaneford the birthplace of Scotland’s national flag, our route takes us up along the ridge of the Garleton Hills. We will be walking on grassy tracks, field margins and quiet roads, enjoying panoramic views of countryside and coast.

Sunday 30 March

Faseny to Gifford (via Meikle Says Law) A 17.5km (11mile) walk through the Lammermuir Hills to Gifford with spectacular views across East Lothian along the way. A moderate walk (more down than up!) through moorland, farmland and woodland. Mostly along well-defined tracks with some quiet country lanes. Return transport will be provided.

Sunday 27 April

Priestlaw Panorama A 16km (9 mile) circular hike through the farms and heathland of the Lammermuir hills. Appreciate the view of East Lothian from the top of Priestlaw Hill and then continue on the journey with more impressive views, this time of the Scottish Borders. The terrain is varied on farm tracks, quiet country roads and heathland. Moderate fitness required.

To book a place telephone 01620 827421

Information and booking Cost: ÂŁ4 per person, per hike. Walking boots are recommended for all walks, as well as waterproofs, hats and gloves. Routes may be varied depending on the weather conditions. Remember we can only proceed at the pace of the slowest person. Please note: These hikes and events are not suitable for children or for people with restricted mobility. On the hikes, please bring along a packed lunch. Sorry, but no dogs are permitted on any of these hikes or events. Emergency contact details and relevant medical information will be required from all participants before undertaking the hikes. As places are limited (maximum 12 on a hike and 20 on an event), bookings must be made prior to each and every hike/event.


Clouded yellow

Wildlife & Biodiversity

Butterfly Records For my day job I work as an Access Officer, looking after the core paths and public access on the eastern side of East Lothian. However, one of my interests is butterflies, and I co-ordinate the butterfly records for the county. Collating records from colleagues and, more recently, some volunteers, is now enabling the development of a better understanding picture of how butterflies are faring in East Lothian. 2013 was a fantastic year for butterflies. It didn’t start off so well, with the winter dragging on, so spring butterflies Speckled started to appear about a month Wood later than normal. Their numbers were about average, but that was a relief after the poor weather of 2012. In summer, however, butterfly numbers took off! Large and Small Whites appeared in an abundance that I have never previously seen. Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells covered Buddleias and some of our newer resident species extended their range. Wall Browns were first recorded here in 2010 at Bilsdean and they have now worked their way along the coast as far as North Berwick.


Even more impressive has been the spread of the Speckled Wood, which was first seen here in 2009 and has spread right around the coast to Longniddry and worked its way up the River Tyne valley almost as far as Haddington. This year I received records of 23 different species of butterflies, which must be a record for East Lothian. These even included a couple of migrant Clouded Yellows that had made their way up from southern England. By contrast during 1960 to 1970 only 11 species were recorded in East Lothian. It is interesting to speculate why we are now getting more species of butterflies up here and I wonder what the next new species will be! Small Tortoiseshell

If you would like to start recording butterflies in East Lothian please get in touch at 6

Wildlife & Biodiversity

Now Westlin’ Winds If you attended a Burns Supper this year, bear in mind that Burns was a notable naturalist, instinctively well-versed in the wild Ayrshire landscape. At the tender age of 16 he wrote ‘Now Westlin Winds’. Although a little idealistic, this poem to a local lassie uses birds and habitats as a metaphor for a happy life. Let us be grateful that we have a beautiful countryside, with so much wildlife, that gives us so much pleasure also. Could modern love-struck poets express themselves so naturally?

The paitrick lo’es the fruitfu’ fells, The plover lo’es the mo untains; The woodcock haunts the lonely dells, The soaring hern the fountains: Thro lofty groves the cushat roves, The path o man to shu n it; The hazel bush o’erha ngs the thrush, The spreading thorn the linnet. But, Peggy dear, the ev’ning’s clear, Thick flies the skimm ing swallow; The sky is blue, the fie lds in view, All fading green and yellow: Come let us stray our gladsome way, And view the charms of Nature; The rustling corn, the fruited thorn, And ilka happy creatu re.


Wildlife & Biodiversity

Here be bees To put some science behind our conservation grazing scheme (which is aiming to improve the natural quality of some of our grasslands), volunteers have been involved in some surveys this year. Plant surveys were carried out at Aberlady, North Berwick Law Traprain Law and Barns. In addition at each site a bumblebee survey was undertaken. We chose bumblebees as there is a lot of concern about their well-being generally and as active pollen gatherers, we thought they would be good indicators of whether our project is going the right way. Volunteers were given the challenging task of recording the sex and species of bumblebee they encountered along a pre-determined route. Sounds difficult? Well yes, it is, or was‌ fortunately we provided some training. Also fortunate is that there are only a half

dozen species of bumblebee you are likely to encounter. Unfortunately some look very similar! Still, from a starting point of zero, recorders have done exceptionally well and even if not all the species could be identified, we have a base-line of numbers. Now the plan is to repeat these surveys for a further 4 years to see if the relative populations of bees increase – hopefully as the benefits of the grazing scheme enable more species of flower to bloom on a more prolific basis and hence support a larger insect population.

Recruiting Now! Want to help? We are always on the looking for additional bee recorders (and / or plant recorders) and will train you up and ensure you start out with someone who knows there Buff-tails from their White-tailed bumblebees. For information email me at 8

Wildlife & Biodiversity

Top Trees! Highlighting some of the county’s more dramatic and grand tree specimens.

No3 Elm This mature Elm (Ulmus glabra) grows in the car park next to Fisherrow Harbour, Musselburgh. Ulmus glabra is the only Elm that is definitely native in Britain & this is one of a handful of large specimens left in East Lothian. The UK’s Elm population was almost completely wiped by Dutch Elm Disease. It is caused by a fungus which is spread by elm bark beetles. It first appeared in NW Europe around 1910. Much of the work on its cause was carried out between 1919 and 1934 by several outstanding Dutch scientists, hence the name ‘Dutch Elm Disease’. This seaside location in which this Elm has grown has probably helped it survive attack from the Elm Bark Beetles. If you would like to see more mature Elm trees then one of the few places where you can still see them is within the City of Edinburgh. They have undertaken sanitation felling of diseased Elms since 1976 which has slowed the spread of the disease. Many of the city’s parks still have some big Elms. But every year the number gets less, so don’t leave it too long. Unfortunately the UK is in the grip of another serious tree disease affecting Ash trees. This again is a disease spread by a fungus, and once more we are likely to witness a great loss of these wonderful native trees.

Do you have your own top tree? Email the woodland officer at 9

How you can help – Volunteers

Friends of Levenhall Links Our latest volunteer group is kick-starting into action this year… Thursday February 6th 1300 Meet Boating Pond. Tree maintenance. Remove dead and damaged limbs and branches from the trees surrounding the boating pond. Refreshments provided. Saturday March 1st 1000 Annual Spring Clean. Meet at Morrison’s Haven Car Park for the Annual FOML Spring Clean. Refreshments provided.

If you would like to get involved, please contact; Nick Aitken | Countryside Ranger (Musselburgh) |

Path Warden News North Berwick Countryside Volunteers Our group usually meets on the last Tuesday of the month between 10am to 12.30pm to help the ranger with tasks such as wildlife monitoring, vegetation clearance and litter picking at various locations in North Berwick such as the Law, the Glen and the beaches. For more information please contact Tuesday 28 January • Tuesday 25 February Tuesday 25 March • Tuesday 29 April Tuesday 20 May 10

Exciting news from the volunteer path wardens. Now, with their numbers nudging 50+, not only are they a considerable force for good in helping to ensure the path network around the county is in as good an order as nature allows, but also, the path wardens have just secured Charitable Status. This will enable the Group to access other funding to increase the good deeds that they will be able to do, either directly through their own effort, or by the employment of third party contractors for larger work. Well done! If you want to help out as a volunteer path warden please contact Duncan Priddle at

How you can help – Volunteers

Friends of Yellowcraig Yellowcraig achieved its Seaside Award for 2012, which is judged in part by cleanliness of the site, so a big thank you to all of our volunteers for helping to achieve this. DATE



Thursday 16th January

Buckthorn burning and marshmallow eating!

Yellowcraig car park. 9.30-3

Thursday 6th February

More buckthorn burning

Yellowcraig car park. 9.30-3

Thursday 13th March

Path repair

Yellowcraig car park. 9.30-3

Thursday 17th April

Beach clean

Yellowcraig car park. 9.30-3

Thursday 8th May

Pirri pirri survey

Yellowcraig car park. 9.30-3

Thursday 5th June

Boundary wall repair

Yellowcraig car park. 9.30-3

To join the Friends of Yellowcraig please contact

Friends of Aberlady DATE


Wed 5th Feb

sea buckthorn removal

Sun 16th Feb

sea buckthorn removal

Wed 5th Mar

beach clean

Sun 16th Mar

electric fencing

Wed 2nd Apr

electric & twine fencing

Sun 13th Apr

sea buckthorn control

Wed 7th May

giant hogweed removal

Sun 18th May

giant hogweed removal

9.30am-3pm unless otherwise stated To join the Friends of Aberlady please contact

Friends of John Muir Country Park The Friends of John Muir are currently reviewing when best to carry out their team tasks. In the interim if you would like to work in this wonderful spot once a month please contact the ranger, – Tara Sykes at tsykes@eastlothian./ for upcoming events.


How you can help – Volunteers

Junior Rangers Are you (or do you know someone) between 11-18?

Junior Rangers have been going from strength to strength, working hard on a variety of sites around the county. Some even ventured further afield to Hopetoun House in West Lothian to join up with Junior Rangers who work with other Ranger Services across Scotland

Would you like to get outdoors? And learn a bit of…Bushcraft? Wildlife ID? Practical conservation stuff? Great! Then contact us and we’ll do the rest. Jen Edwards, countryside ranger,

Mud In Your Eye is produced by East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service. For more information please contact: Duncan Priddle, Countryside Officer, 01620 827459 East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service

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