With the weather a little more settled Muir, Jim and myself were down in the Stinchar catchment to carry out some surveys on the Cross Water and Lig Burn. August is a great time of year to be out surveying not to hot, not to cold…it’s not that we’re fussy here at the Trust!

The Lig Burn emanates from Loch Lig (near Barrhill) and runs through a mix of coniferous and broadleaf woodland before discharging into the Duisk River. The Lig is a wonderful burn with good quality substrates, varied flows and (seemingly) good water quality. Despite its modest length (1500m from the loch to the Duisk) there is an encouraging population of juvenile salmon (we will of course have to analyse todays data to confirm this).

Our surveys took us as far as the viaduct that crosses the burn, unfortunately there just wasn’t time to walk up to the loch to check the accessibility of the habitat to salmon. Perhaps fish can migrate all the way to the loch….a walk up the remainder of the burn will answer that question.


Lig Water: fantastic habitat…well shaded, diversity of flows and clean substrates.

Substrate size is important component of the in-stream habitat. Finer material such as gravel and pebbles are important for trout spawning where as salmon (being a larger more powerful animal) prefer coarser material (pebbles and cobbles).

A colourful trout fry from the Lig Burn. 


A lovely brownie from the Lig Water…this guy came from beneath some tree roots in an otherwise featureless section of water. Good habitat is absolutely crucial in supporting fish populations.



A salmon fry with a ‘snub’ nose, this will have been a congenital (physical abnormality or disease from birth) defect that this fish has had to deal with. Despite the unfortunate disfigurement this fish appears to be managing to feed. Although this fish is not quite as robust as some of the other fry we found today.


The late afternoon caught these fern spores as we headed to the last site of the day. The year is drawing on quickly with each morning feeling more and more autumnal. 

The Cross Water is similar in size to the Lig Burn but is much longer. I remember the first time I surveyed this would have been around 10-11 years ago when my abiding memory was the midges! Today there were no midges thankfully. The Cross Water is peat stained making wading tricky. Salmon, trout and plenty of eels were present but netting them from the dark water is challenging. The burn is a little over shaded here, but just a few hundred meters upstream the burn runs through a open moorland heath landscape, so despite the lower section of the burn being shaded the water temperature remains quite high, helping improve productivity within the burn.

Similarly Lig Loch will absorb much of the sun’s warmth helping maintain water temperatures slightly higher than other similar watercourses that don’t emanate from lochs.

Jim and Muir recording the catch on the Cross Water near Martyrs Tomb. Jim has been a valuable member of the team this season. Volunteering has helped Jim secure a place on an Environmental Conservation course that he will begin later this year.

We hope that this weather remains settled for a few weeks now as we have a lot of work to finish before the end of the electrofishing season.