12 April 2015

Froglife Amphibian Identification and Survey Training @ Crombie Country Park

Froglife is a charity for amphibians and reptiles covering the whole of the UK that has been going since 1989. On Sunday 12th April we attended one of their amphibian training days at Crombie Country Park in Angus taught by their Scottish Dragon Finder Project Officer James Stead. We have attended training before as part of our volunteer surveying commitment for National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) but it's always good to get some refresher training now and then! Plus no one surely passes up the opportunity to see some amphibians up close?

The weather was cold but fairly still and sunny. Half the afternoon was theory with some quizzes on identification. The other half was pond dipping for amphibians in a couple of ponds on the estate including the Heron Pond which Froglife has been involved in restoring.

We saw frog spawn but saw no adult frogs. However we did catch quite a newts including this amazing male Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus). He has textbook 'palmate' black feet, tail filament and accentuated colouring on his tummy and flanks. He also has a distinct crest along his back but it's hard to see - the cresting on his tail is easier to see as he moves.

9 April 2015

Investigating suspected badger sett

We had a request from Scottish Badgers to go out and see a suspected badger sett that had seemingly been dug out in the side of a road over night.

Upon arriving, multiple rabbit holes and runs were discovered right on the roadside, next to a field entrance. It appears on inspection that the suspected badger sett is in fact a Eurasian rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) 'stop' - a breeding nest lined with fur from the rabbit doe's belly as insulation for the young rabbits - has been excavated by a predator. Fur from the nest lining is visible on the surface of the spoil. The hole narrows quickly to rabbit-sized tunnels.

Fur lining the nest of rabbit

Rabbit hole!
A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) had visited the scene, but it may originally have been dug out by a badger (Meles meles) given the quantity of spoil and size of stones moved. The slope is very steep and the spoil and several large stones were still on the road.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) track on top of spoil heap
The stones currently in the hole look like they have simply been put in there to get the sizeable stones off the busy road, no malice intended. Had we felt this was indeed a badger sett we would have escalated the matter as a possible wildlife crime. If rabbits are still using this hole (unlikely if their young have been taken) there is still plenty of room for them to get in and out.

So no badger sett but still a little mystery to solve - you never know what you will get when you go out! :)

Scottish Badgers rely on casual sightings from members of the public,
please report badger setts or roadkill you see on their website!


Welcome to Ecology+! I've been blogging about "other things" for over 6 years now, always kind of incorporating my ecological forays into those posts. This year however I've decided I need to ramp it up, as I really want to give something back after years of learning from volunteering opportunities with some of the best people in their field!

I am passionate about citizen science and want to inject a bit more 'science' into it but still keep people interested enough to keep recording.

I will feature outings we do and there will be photos and tips for identifying things in the field spanning a wide variety of animal/plant species and also habitats. No matter who you are, beginner or seasoned naturalist, I hope the blog will inspire you to go out and record! :)

See you soon again!