Planning for ‘Dirty Weekenders’

This weekend we have the Dirty Weekender Conservation Volunteers from Edinburgh University coming to East Perthshire to help clean up the pond in Loon Braes (Davie Park), Rattray.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming the conservation students back to Perthshire (see here to read about their previous efforts) and today CG were out planning for their visit.

Come back next week to find out how the group got on… and check out the Dirty Weekend blog to read about the groups other activities!

Alistair 2

Alistair in the Wrong Trousers…

Alistair

‘There is a bike in here!’

Farewell Daniele, Hi Dragonfly

Four intrepid, hard-working volunteers and two rangers dug vegetation out of Murthly Pond this week in the name of dragonflies, who like a bit of open water.

It was hard work in the drizzle but rewarding, not least of all because we found a few frogs while we were at it.

This was Daniele Muir’s last task with Perth and Kinross Conservation Volunteers because she has moved on from the council (she was with us as a volunteer this time) to run her own business and work for the Dragonfly Society. We wish her well.

Many volunteers will miss her knowledge and enthusiasm, as will her colleagues.  A fitting tribute was that a member of the public came to speak to us during the task to let us know that they had recently noticed a member of council staff checking the road drains near the pond for amphibians and reptiles. This is part of a nationally acclaimed project to protect these creatures which is one of Daniele’s major legacies.

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Runner up in TayARG poetry competition

The Greenspace Rangers support a range of volunteer groups including TayARG (Tayside Amphibian & Reptile Group). We recently ran a poetry competition and have already published the winning poem.

Here is the runner up – Paparazzi Puddock – written by Will Kettles in Glasgow. Thanks, Will!

As ‘Hello Pondlife’ magazine confirms to me,

I’m a lily-pad leaping celebrity,

I express my views in croaks and clicks,

A paparazzi’d puddock,

I’m the poster boy of tadpolitics

Rescued amphibians!

Rescued amphibians!

TayARG

Amphibians in Drains Project

The Amphibians in Drains Project was started in Perth and Kinross in 2010 after observations that a significant number of roadside gullypots contained dead amphibians and small mammals. Roadside gullypots are essential for road drainage but can act as pitfall traps when animals fall through the grid at road level, and once trapped it is unlikely the animals will be able to survive for any length of time. It was identified that a more robust study to ascertain the scale of the problem was required. The Amphibians in Drains Project was born!

A large common toad wedged in a gullypot plug – escaping drowning, but with no way out.

The aims of the project were:

  • To estimate the number of drains that may be affected across eastern Perthshire and, through extrapolation, across Perth and Kinross.
  • To estimate the number of amphibians & mammals that may be trapped.
  • To record species of amphibian & mammals affected.
  • To investigate if there is an association between adjacent habitat type and high numbers of trapped amphibians.
  • To investigate if there is an association between proximity to ponds and high numbers of trapped amphibians.

Results from the survey illustrated that gullypots create a substantial problem for amphibians and small mammals. A total of 3007 animals were found in 1565 gullypots, which works out at an average of 1.9 animal per gullypot. From these results we can extrapolate that with 37,252 gullypots being found across the county, if an average of 67% (24,958) of these contain wildlife (with an average of 1.9 animals trapped per drain), the total number of trapped animals would be 47,421 across Perth & Kinross per year.

The survey showed that the majority of amphibians were found within 1km of a breeding pond. This information is significant for targeting road works involving gullypots or kerbs within a short distance of a breeding pond. If we were to target only these areas with a high incidence of trapped wildlife, this approach would ensure a low cost, high benefit solution.

Not all amphibians are as lucky to be rescued as this frog - but things are looking up.

Not all amphibians are as lucky as this rescued frog – but things are looking up.

In 2012 the Ranger Service started the Amphibians in Drains Pilot Project at Elm Drive in Blairgowrie, which involved replacing standard kerbs with wildlife kerbs, allowing wildlife to avoid the danger zone of the gullypot by following a recess in the new kerb. Consequent surveys have shown that these kerbs are working well, with far fewer animals falling into and drowning in the gullypots.

In 2015, working with the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership, ladders were placed in gullypots at a site in Lethendy, to enable wildlife which had fallen in to escape.