Tayside Ponds Project – Volunteer days

tayarg

As part of the Tayside Ponds Project, we have three pond volunteer days and an amphibian-ladder making workshop programmed throughout September, October and November.

Ponds need regular management to keep on top of the growth of vegetation – most of them are gradually infilling with greater reedmace, soft rush and other fast-growing plants – so we need to prevent these encroaching on the areas of open water that amphibians use for breeding.

The amphibian-ladder making workshop will involve putting together ladders to go in gullypots, which can act as pitfall traps and end up drowning lots of wildlife.

The details are as follows:

    • September 29th – Perfect Ponds Day at Craighall pond near Blairgowrie
    • October 13th¬†– Perfect Ponds Day at Elm Drive pond in Blairgowrie
    • November 3rd – Amphibian ladder making workshop and gullypot survey training day, Murthly village hall (and local sites)
    • November 18th – Perfect Ponds Day at Kinclaven Rd pond, Murthly

We will meet at 10am and finish by 3pm. Refreshments will be provided but please bring a packed lunch and wear warm clothes, wellies and waterproofs if you have them. We will have some waterproofs available for borrowing.

Please contact me for more details and to let me know if would like to come along so I know how many tools to bring.

We will also be planting native wildflowers to improve the habitat for a variety of wildlife.

More info will be on the Tayside Amphibian and Reptile Group Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TaysideAmphibiansReptileGroup/

Daniele Muir

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.