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Tournaig smolt run starts on schedule

Posted: Wednesday 16 April, 2014 @ 16:35:41

Your right!! Not a smolt: a salmon kelt also taken at Tournaig on 10th April 2014 (photo by Ben R)

The first swallow of the year was seen yesterday (15/4) by Ben at Tournaig. They usually arrive just after the first smolts have gone to sea and nest in the sheds by the farm and sometimes in the old powerhouse by the fish ladder.


Indeed, last week the little Tournaig river system had its first migrating smolts of the year. The first sea trout smolt heading for the sea was intercepted by the downstream trap on the 7th of April ‘properly coloured and ready to take on the seals and divers’. The first salmon smolt was recorded three days later on the 10th April. These wee migrating fish are pretty much on time. For the years 2005-2014, the average date for the first sea trout smolt was 3rd April (range 21 March to 21 April); and for the first salmon smolt, 12th April (range 6th April to 26th April). The first salmon smolt is usually a few days later than the first sea trout unless low water holds everything up (as in 2010 and 2013).  


What will the feeding be like when they get to sea?


In 2013, the smolt run was late; the first smolts (both sea trout and salmon) were not until 21st April (and the first swallow was not seen until the end of the month)!  So far this year the weather has been milder. We’ve had a good lot of west and south westerly winds to blow the plankton towards our shores.  Last Sunday (on 13 April) I watched kittiwakes feeding presumably on zooplankton around a nearby headland. I’m optimistic that this year’s smolts will get off to a better start than last year’s!


If anyone would like to join Ben for an early morning visit to the fish trap, please phone 01445 712 899 or contact Peter at . Ben Rushbrooke can be contacted at the Garden Cottage Nursery on 07796200147 or 01445 781777.


The Tournaig project is supported by Marine Harvest with permission of Tournaig Estate and National Trust for Scotland.