12 August 2011

Froglife LINKs in with Scottish Conservation

To help Froglife push the cause of amphibian and reptile conservation on a national scale in Scotland we have recently joined the Scottish Environment LINK. 

The LINK forum is attended by many of Scotland’s leading voluntary environment organisations, such as Scottish Wildlife Trust, National Trust for Scotland, and the RSPB. The purpose of the forum is to bring environmental organisations together to promote informed debate and co-operation within the voluntary environmental sector. The forum then acts as a unified voice and ensures that the environment is fully recognised in the development of policy and legislation affecting Scotland.

“While different organisations may have slightly different priorities, ultimately everyone is striving for the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society,” says Robert Williams, Living Water Project Officer with Froglife. I think joining Scottish Environment LINK is a great move for Froglife, and in a time when governments are increasingly overlooking the need to invest in conservation, a unified voice is so important.”
Froglife will sit on the Freshwater and Wildlife Natural Environment taskforces and have already been involved in reviewing Scottish Environmental Protection Agency’s National Flood Risk Assessment. This document will affect prioritisation of flood risk across Scotland and could have implications for protected species and sites, such as Natterjack Toads on the Solway coast.
You can support our work conserving reptiles and amphibians and reptiles for as little as £1.50 a month. Sign up as a Froglife Friend and help save species and habitats here.




8 August 2011

What do frogs eat?

Here are Froglife we’re always encouraging allotment holders and gardeners to install ponds in order to attract amphibians. Frogs, toads and newts are all predators of slugs and other pests that might otherwise cause damage to your plants and vegetables. But how much do we know about exactly what frogs eat?  Wildlife enthusiast Ann Roberts took an unusual step to find out more…
“While weeding my garden a few weeks ago, a common frog hopped out of the plants onto a patch of bare earth.  I’m not sure who was most surprised!  I carried on weeding and it sat and watched me over its shoulder.  I soon realised that its back legs were at a peculiar angle and I then saw a dropping between them; when the frog eventually hopped away, I decided to collect the dropping.
I’ve analysed other animal droppings before, such as hedgehog’s, so I knew what to do - I soaked it overnight, stirred it gently to get it to fall apart and then filtered it on a piece of kitchen paper.  I left it to dry before taking a closer look.

One of the image through the microscope by Steven Gould
I looked at the results through my geology lens and could see a red ant’s head with compound eyes and some tiny beetles.  My neighbour, Steven, then used his microscope and photographed the beetles. There were also lots of what looked like black plant remains and lots of tiny grains of quartz which were probably in the guts of worms eaten by the frog. 
Adults are a bit underwhelmed by this information but children think it great to have watched a frog doing a poo!”

We sent Steven’s photos over to local invertebrate expert Peter Kirby and he identified the beetles as Barypeithes pellucidus, commonly known as the hairy broad-nosed weevil or the strawberry fruit weevil.
“As the name strawberry fruit weevil suggests these insects can occasionally be a minor nuisance, most often, I think, in nurseries, so this highlights the value of amphibians as biological control agents,” Peter added.  “They’re very handy frog food though as they live at frog level, in the sorts of places frogs go, and are slow-moving and easy even for people to catch, so a doddle for an amphibian.”
Have you got any unusual amphibian-encounters you’d like to share?  Get in touch and let us know!
You can support our work conserving reptiles and amphibians and reptiles for as little as £1.50 a month. Sign up as a Froglife Friend and help save species and habitats here.