4 July 2012

Drains Causing Problems for Amphibians

Froglife's Public Engagement Officer Sivi Sivanesan has been finding out more about some research into protecting amphibians from falling down drainage pots at the side of roads.

“Roadside gullypots can act as pitfall traps when animals fall through the grid at road level.  ... Once trapped it is unlikely that the animals will be able to escape or survive for any length of time.”  - Perth and Kinross Council, 2012

“Perth & Kinross Council Countryside Ranger Service have been conducting a study since 2010 to quantify the effect of roadside drainage gullypots on amphibians. Here’s a quick summary of their interesting results:

• In 2010 69% of the 322 gullypots checked contained wildlife - 641 amphibians, 56 mammals and 1 bird
• In 2011 63% of the 636 gullypots checked contained wildlife –1087 amphibians and 114 mammals
• Common toads formed the largest proportion of the trapped animals in both years
• Surprisingly the majority of animals were found in August and September rather than the breeding migrations of spring.

A possible way forward
The study has continued into 2012. The Ranger service obtained ACO wildlife kerbs via funding from the SITA Trust. These kerbs have a recess which allows wildlife to bypass the entrance to the gullypot.
A wildilfe kerb in place by a gullypot
If the wildlife kerbs are shown to be successful in the current study (as they have in other locations), Perth and Kinross Council Roads Section is interested in using them in suitable locations. This Council could set a precedent to help save toads at significantly important crossings by replacing old kerb stones with wildlife ones.

One way to help if you are concerned about wildlife and drains in your area is through joining your Toad Patrol, sending in your data for toad crossings and also making notes on where the gullypots are affecting amphibians and the number of animals you help remove from them.  Do let me know about any issues in your local area."

•  More information about the study is available here
•  The 2010 survey report can be found here and the 2011 report here 
•  More information about Toads on Roads can be found at the Froglife website here

2 July 2012

Wildlife Gardening Tips

Rebecca Neal is running Froglife's Green Pathways project.  As she tackles her reputation as World's Worst Gardener, she's discovering the things we can all do to help amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife at home...
"Its not that I don’t like gardens or that I underestimate their importance (gardens are one of the few habitats that are actually increasing) I am just a bit rubbish at gardening! However, in my job, there is a need for me to learn more and help young people create wildlife gardens in their local area.  So I have been swotting up to find these top tips:
1.     Stop mowing! Or at least do less of it. You could mow your whole grassy area less often or even better, leave wilder bits around the edges. Areas of longer grass are great for invertebrates and therefore anything that eats them, like newts. 
2.     Provide water. A pond would be brilliant and provides habitat for lots of stuff. If a traditional pond is out of the question, you could use anything in your garden to hold water; an old sink or just a plastic window box. As long as you provide a way for things like newts  to get in and out like a pile of stones. You could collect rain water to top up your pond. Or you could just put out a dish of water for birds to drink or wash in.
Honeysuckle is great for bees
3.     Grow nectar and berries. Native is best. Try to plant a variety so that there is always something in flower. Ivy is good because its late flowering and provides late berries and my absolute favourite plant, honeysuckle, is also favoured  by lots of things.
4.     Create hiding places. This could be anything from a log to a bug hotel, a pile of leaves or a rockery. Planting a native hedge provides all sorts of hidey holes. Try hawthorn or blackthorn which have beautiful early blossom and berries.
5.     Make a compost heap. Retiles love it!"

Rebecca will be sharing more tips as she practices her wildlife gardening.  In the meantime, here are some good places to look for further advice on gardening with wildlife in mind: