The colder air and falling water temperatures have brought a few trout onto the redds for spawning and there were signs that a few had been successfully completed in different parts of the Ayr catchment. We had already watched a pair of smaller trout cutting a redd in the Hareshaw before the end of October but that was very early for the Ayr.
On the Burn O’Need, we found several completed redds and one incomplete, possibly disturbed by a predator. There’s still time for this to be completed so long as the fish wasn’t eaten. There were otter tracks everywhere on the burn and very often at this time of year, these predators follow the fish up the burns. Of course otters have every right to grab an easy meal too so we aren’t complaining about their presence, just making an observation. Another observation is the condition of this burn despite historic mining taking place on the banks. Water quality appears excellent and there’s little sign of iron enrichment. There’s plenty of mine artefacts lying around for those that look.
At the Stottencleugh at the top of the Ayr (this burn flows into Glenbuck Loch and is the true source of the Ayr), there were several trout spawning in the poorest conditioned habitat. The Stottencleugh suffers from iron rich mine water upwelling from a disused drift mine. There’s no hope of restoration at this point and as long as this pollution continues, the eggs laid in these gravels will fail as anoxic conditions prevail. It’s a sad situation and each year we watch fish spawning here doomed to failure. The Hareshaw is a tiny tributary of the Stottencleugh and has excellent habitat and water quality however there’s only 50m available before a waterfall prevents further migration. This burn is prolific but over cutting of redds happens and many eggs are lost.
We will keep an eye out for salmon spawning commencing but very often on the Ayr, that doesn’t really get underway until much nearer christmas. However, we did film salmon spawning in November last year so anything’s possible. I saw a couple of cock fish moving in a run today and jostling for position. Its a sure sign that should the temperature continue to drop, salmon spawning won’t be so far away.