With longer days and the warm temperatures experienced last week, it feels as if spring has finally arrived on the River Dee. Spring is a time when everything is bursting into life and growing; birds are singing, leaves are unfolding and butterflies are starting to flutter. Nature is at its most busy in spring and for many species finding a mate and successfully breeding is top priority.
In the River Dee, spring salmon are entering the river. The numbers of these fish have declined historically between 1960 and 2000, as less and less survive their journey at sea, but numbers are now stabilising. These fish are termed ‘Springer’s’ by fishermen due to the time when they enter the river but in fact a Springer is defined as a fish which returns from the sea into the river whilst in its winter phase of little feeding and slow growth. Results from the River Dee Trust’s research has illustrated that Springer’s can enter the river from late autumn until as late as June, but typically between February and May. These iconic fish are what some would say makes the River Dee the best Spring fishery in the world, and people travel from far afield to fish for them, bringing a vital boost to the local economy at a time when tourism is typically low
Water voles are now thinking about what most rodents do best: multiplying. Having spent the winter in their burrows eating roots and shoots under the snow, they are now out and about looking for food and most importantly a mate. Water voles live in discrete patches of suitable habitat often with only a few individuals in a colony. Research by the University of Aberdeen has found that water voles will travel several kilometres in search of a mate. After the snow melt their winter nests and burrows will become more visible and easier to spot.