15 October 2013

Croaks are Moving to Froglife's New Website

The Froglife team are really excited to launch our brand new website, which will be home to our Croaks news feed.  This is our last post from our current home for news on our Blogger page.

The colourful, interactive and easy to use Froglife website has been designed by local Peterborough company Paper Rhino, and we're thrilled with it!  Keep an eye for new developments as we add more interactive tools and content over the coming months.

Croaks, our e-news bulletins about our work, amphibians, reptiles, outdoor education and other relevant topics, will be hosted on the new website at www.froglife.org.  Anyone who has subscribed to receive Croaks in their inbox will continue to do so, but hosting them on the main site makes things much easier for us to manage (you can also unsubscribe there if you prefer).

To celebrate the new site, we are also running a Drawing Dragons poster competition throughout October.  Open to anyone under 18, we will be sending Froglife goody bags to our favourite posters in three age categories (age 6 and under, 7 to 12 and 13 to 18 year old).  Find out more at the new Froglife website here.

Thank you for following Croaks and here's to more exciting news from Froglife soon.

1 October 2013

Happy Birthday London Dragon Finder!

Froglife is celebrating the first year of our London Dragon Finder project this October, with a huge amount achieved time by our hard working team.  Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a number of other funders, this innovative project takes a fun and inclusive approach to conserving reptiles and amphibians in the Capital. 

The project runs for another 3 years, and we are already well on our way to our ambitious targets.  Here are some of the highlights from our first year:

lus5Life Under the Surface

These art and craft based sessions inspire school children and families to explore the amazing world that can be found under the surface of a pond.  By making giant pond creatures and setting them up in an installation for visitors to walk through and explore, the young people learn about the lifecycles and ecology of different pond creatures, including frogs, toads and newts.  Working with a range of partners all over the city, we have involved 1386 people in our educational Life Under the Surface sessions.  This includes 36 sessions with 735 pupils from 19 schools, 36 teachers and 203 families.

Habitat Restoration, Creation and Training

To benefit amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife, we have so far created or restored 8 ponds at 4 sites, with a lot more taking off in the next few weeks.  We have run practical habitat work sessions for 32 new volunteers, 2 sessions for young offenders and run practical projects for 21 people experiencing social exclusion through mental ill health or significant illness.  To up-skill people to continue to look after habitats and survey for reptiles and amphibians, we have trained 206 new Dragon Finders through 14 courses across London.

Dragon Days

Local parks, nature reserves and green spaces are vital hubs not only for people to enjoy but to ensure that London’s wildlife has a home too.  Dragon Days are special open days celebrating the amazing sites we are working on and introducing people to the creatures that can be found there, and so far we have organised 9 family-friendly events, which have attracted 1,753 people. 

Swimming with Dragons

This was one of the most exciting and challenging ideas in the project; to run learning sessions helping people understand amphibian life cycles and pond habitats through sessions in swimming pools.  We have run Froglife’s first ever Swimming with Dragons session, with more planned this year and over the course of the project.  We are also planning to run sessions in the East of England through our River Nene Dragon Finder project.
In an urban setting, allotments and gardens are incredibly important for wildlife.  So far, Froglife has run 5 Wildlife Workshops for 45 gardeners and allotment holders; helping them to understand the benefits of making space for local wildlife and garden in a way that will help the animals to thrive.  With Slow-Worms, Common Toads and Common Frogs great garden pest controllers, it’s a win-win situation!


We have a new area of the Froglife website dedicated to Dragon Finder, where you can find out about the project, events and training, discover more about the wildlife and share your own memories and stories about encounters with wildlife in the city.  The  Living Atlas is an evolving resource, and  we also created a free smartphone app, enabling people on iPhone, Android and via a mobile website to feed in their sightings of reptiles and amphibians to help us map where they can be found and identify key habitat sites.

There is still plenty of time for you to get involved in London Dragon Finder, join us Under the Surface, Swimming with Dragons, and become a Dragon Finder yourself.  You can find out all about it at the Living Atlas website here 

25 September 2013

Croaking Science: Evolutionary Origins Part 2- The Rise of the Reptiles

Becky Austin our Croaking Science Volunteer, finds out about the evolutionary origons of reptiles this week in part two of our evolution series.

By around 340mya, amphibian life was flourishing, as evolution from fishes for life out of water was advancing rapidly. However these animals were still dependant on water, as amphibian eggs had to be laid in water in order to avoid them drying out. Terrestrial life was therefore restricted only to areas near water sources, leaving vast inland areas unoccupied by vertebrate life.

This all changed when a group of animals known as the reptilomorphs evolved in the Carboniferous period. These animals were, put simply, half way between amphibians and reptiles, and were the precursors to reptilian life. But at what critical point did an amphibian become a reptile?
The most important feature that defines a reptile, besides its scaly skin to cope with water loss on land, is the ‘amniote egg’. The first true reptiles could lay this type of egg, which allowed gas exchange with air through a robust membrane (the shell) whilst avoiding drying out. This meant that reptiles could thrive without need to return to water to reproduce, allowing colonisation of the rich and vast inner land masses in a time where the climate was becoming more arid.

It will probably never be known at what specific time this transition first occurred, but there have been a number of fossil discoveries which give us a general idea. One of these was found close to home, at the East Kirkton quarry in Scotland, and is called Westlothiana lizziae. The reptilomorph species was present around 335mya, and resembled a small lizard. Another Scottish fossil, Casineria, is very similar, with skeletal structures suggesting a very terrestrial lifestyle. It is therefore possible that the first reptiles were small creatures like these, whose pioneering steps into fully terrestrial life would lead to the evolution of all amniotes, including dinosaurs, birds and mammals. 


References:
Paton, R.L., Smithson, T.R and Clack, J.A. (1999). An amniote-like skeleton from the Early Carboniferous of Scotland. Nature, vol. 398 pp. 508-513.

Smithson, T.R, Carroll, R.L, Panchen, A.L and Andrews, S.M. (1993). Westlothiana izziae from the Viséan of East Kirkton, West Lothian, Scotland, and the amniote stem. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh:  Earth Sciences, vol. 84, issue 3-4, pp. 383-412.

What you can do:
Reptiles are believed to be under recorded in some parts of Scotland. Why not help increase local records by using the free Dragon Finder App to get your records to Froglife.

 

24 September 2013

Scottish amphibians and reptiles thrown a lifeline by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Wildlife conservation charity Froglife has received exciting news that The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £422,400 for Scottish Dragon Finder.  This exciting new project will directly involve 28,000 people in conserving Scotland’s amphibian and reptile species, with activities taking place all over the country in the next four and a half years. 

There are ten native amphibian and reptile species in Scotland, seven of which feature as priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. There is an urgent need for more data on where the animals are and their populations, with current evidence suggesting the creatures are in decline.  Dragon Finder will introduce thousands of new people to the intriguing lives of amphibians and reptiles, teaching them how to survey, record and protect these amazing animals. 

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:

This year, the Year of Natural Scotland, brings into focus the natural beauty and biodiversity that surrounds us. It is one of our greatest national assets, attracting visitors from home and abroad and making a valuable contribution to our tourist economy.

“We have some incredible native wildlife in Scotland but our species and habitats are under constant threat. Recent reports such as State of Nature and the Scottish Government’s 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity plan highlight the need to act now if we are to protect it. We hope that with the Heritage Lottery Fund support announced today, communities across the country will be inspired and empowered to safeguard the existence of these rare creatures.”

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Scottish Dragon Finder will involve communities, school children, gardeners and hill walkers in improving fresh-water ponds across 14 local authority areas, identifying and recording the current amphibians and reptile populations and in learning activities to raise awareness of the endangered species and the role they play in the country’s biodiversity.  It is an expansion of London Dragon Finder, which has been running in the City for just under a year.
 
Kathy Wormald, Froglife’s CEO added:
 
“We are thrilled to be bringing our innovative Dragon Finder project to Scotland.  We will be introducing people who have never seen these animals before to the wonders on their doorstep, and encouraging those who spend a lot of time outdoors to let us know when they see amphibians and reptiles through our free app.  We’ll be hosting some really creative educational activities and hosting trainee placements, alongside work to create and restore habitats across Scotland.”
 
Creative activities will celebrate Scottish 'Dragons'
 
Ron Macdonald, Scottish Natural Heritage's Head of Policy and Advice was just as excited with the good news for the nation’s wildlife: 
 
"We look forward to supporting Froglife in this great opportunity for the conservation of amphibians and reptiles across Scotland."
 
Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus )
Photos: Sivi Sivanesan, Sam Taylor and Silviu Petrovan

11 September 2013

Croaking Science: Evolutionary Origins Part 1-The Age of Amphibians

Becky Austin our Croaking Science Volunteer, finds out about the evolutionary origons of our species in this two part post...look out for part two on reptiles in a few weeks time.

Picture the scene: A hot, humid environment, with huge forests of mosses and ferns and swampy mangroves. It sounds like a far cry from what we know today but this was what Britain was like in the Devonian era, around 400 million years ago, when it was part of a huge land mass close to the equator. It was a time of great change: the massive drop in atmospheric CO₂ due to these early forests paved the way for fishes of the time to take to the land, and become the very first amphibians.

The Devonian is often termed “the age of fishes”, as Osteichthyes, or “bony fishes” ruled the earth’s aquatic environments. One branch, the “lobe-finned fishes”, is the ancestor group of amphibians and all other terrestrial vertebrates. The closest modern-day example is the African lungfish, which can survive long periods of drought by breathing air with a primitive lung. However, it was a group of lobe-finned fishes called the Osteolepiformes which were the pioneers of the land.

A number of fossil discoveries have helped decipher how Osteolepiformes moved from water to land. Panderichthys, from 385mya onwards, had nostrils for breathing air, and eyes on top of its head to see out of the water. A flatter body and stronger bones helped protect against the crush of gravity out of water, and it had two sets of fins. 3 million years later, Tiktaalik had wrist bones and digits on its limbs, and by 365mya the first real amphibian-like creatures roamed the land, such as Ichthyostega and the later Eryops.

These first amphibians had tough skin to avoid drying out, lungs evolved from swim-bladders for use instead of gills, and hind-limbs extending from the newly evolved pelvis. But, like modern amphibians, they still had to return to water to lay eggs, which is why they retained their aquatic lifestyle. It is possible that this path of evolution was followed to adapt to life in and between woodland swamps of the Devonian – a path which led to the formation of all terrestrial vertebrate life seen today, over 350 million years later.
 




References:
Ahlberg, P.E. and Milner, A.R. (1994). The origin and early diversification of tetrapods. Nature, 368: 507-514.

Clack, J.A. (2012). Gaining ground: the origin and evolution of tetrapods. 2nd edition. Indiana University Press, Indiana, USA.
Retallack, G.J. (2011). Woodland hypothesis for Devonian tetrapod evolution. The journal of geology, 119: 235-258.


2 September 2013

Froglife moves in!

Froglife’s head office in Peterborough has moved.  We are very excited to be settled into our new premises in Werrington, just outside Peterborough.  As well as having improved facilities and better local amenities for staff, we also now have much more powerful broadband.  With staff based in Scotland and London needing to access our IT resources, this is crucial and will make life a lot easier for the whole team.  The new office will cost less per year too, saving important core funding.

To update your address books:

Our new address is 1 Loxley, Werrington, Peterborough, PE4 5BW
And our new telephone number is 01733 602102


28 August 2013

Croaking Science: The Chinese Salamander: a Giant Problem

Becky Austin our Croaking Science Volunteer, finds out about the struggles of the great crested newts larger cousin in China.

The Chinese giant salamander, growing up to six feet in length, is the largest amphibian in the world. Though admittedly not the most attractive animal, it more than makes up for its looks with its enigmatic nature: this shy creature lives a nocturnal life in underwater caves and crevices. However, the elusive amphibian is now causing researchers plenty of concerns, as individuals in their natural habitat are becoming ever harder to find.
Before the 1980s, the Chinese giant salamander, Andrias davidianus, was abundant along the Yangtze, Yellow and Pearl rivers, but now is restricted to only a few areas where mountain streams remain undisturbed in protected nature reserves. The species is now listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list, with numbers having fallen by 80% in the last 50 years.
For the past few decades the salamander has been hunted voraciously for the luxury food trade in China, where it is considered a delicacy. A kilogram of meat can fetch 100 US dollars on the market and is also in demand for traditional Chinese medicines. The situation has been made worse by increasing habitat fragmentation by dam production, deforestation and water pollution from mining industries.
To stall the Chinese giant salamander’s decline, conservation efforts are growing to save this unusual amphibian species from extinction. Projects include captive breeding programmes to release more individuals into the wild, and increasing the size and number of nature reserves where its habitat is still found. Hopefully these efforts can save it from the brink before it is too late.

Find out more:
You can find more facts and great images and videos of these wonderful animals at Arkive

What can you do to help?
Here in the UK, the Chinese giant salamander’s baby cousin, the great crested newt, is also suffering. The greatest cause of population decline is urban development, but fortunately reserves such as the Hampton Nature Reserve in Peterborough are working to save this species. You can help the cause by volunteering with Froglife at the nature reserve or on other projects - just follow this link to find out more: http://www.froglife.org/hnr/volunteer.htm

References:
Wang, X., Zhang, K., Wang, Z., Ding, Y., Wu, W. and Huang, S. (2004). The decline of the Chinese giant salamander Andrias davidianus and its implications for its conservation. Oryx, vol. 38, pp.197-202.

20 August 2013

Join us to Celebrate with Special Guest Nick Baker

Froglife is celebrating the end of one of our projects and the beginning of a new one with a very special event at the Green Backyard in Peterborough.  Join us on Wednesday the 21st of August with the BBC's Nick Baker at this fantastic community site to mark the conclusion of our Wildlife Ambassadors project.

Funded by Access to Nature, the project recruited Ambassadors from a range of backgrounds including people out of work and looking for new opportunities.  The team transformed habitats across Peterborough, including creating new ponds at the Green Backyard site.  Ambassadors also benefitted from training in a range of skills, from pond creation to reptile surveying and natural crafts.

The family fun day from 11-4pm will involve a range of activities and the chance to meet Nick Baker, a nature presenter and one of the stars of BBC SpringWatch. 


"We are really proud of all the Wildlife Ambassadors and the project team have achieved," said Sam Taylor from Froglife.  "It was an ambitious project and we've met some amazing volunteers, lots of whom have gone on to further volunteering, education and employment."

The project comes to an end as Froglife's Dragon Finder project takes wing.  Featured on BBC Look East on Monday the 19th of August and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is running in London already with plans afoot for Scotland and along the River Nene. 

A new, free Dragon Finder app has been created to help people get out and about, identifying and reporting their sightings of reptiles and amphibians.

8 August 2013

Year of the Snake: Myths - are snakes ever the good guys?

Myths and stories are one of the fundamental ways in which people pass on information and current opinion down the generations. Froglife Volunteer - Rebecca Austin investigates how snakes are represented in mythology.

For many people, if asked what the symbolic image of a snake means the response would probably involve something to do with the concept of evil. This should come as no surprise: it is not only the serpent in the Garden of Eden which has caused this extreme viewpoint to become commonplace in society.

Greek mythology tells tales of terrible monsters called ‘Gorgons’; with the body of a woman but hair of live and poisonous snakes. Medusa and her sisters were so frightening that any onlookers were turned into stone! (Medusa was eventually killed by Perseus with the ingenious use of a polished shield to view her reflection.)

In more recent times, snakes have also been portrayed as the “bad guys”, from use of common phrases such as ‘snake in the grass’, to depictions in the media with films like Harry Potter showing serpents as dangerous and evil.
With all the bad press snakes have received over time, it can be hard to think that they could ever be the viewed positively. However, to some cultures they symbolise the dual expression of good and evil, and in others are seen only in a good light.

Snakes for many cultures are seen as a fertility symbol, due to the sloughing of the skin signifying rebirth. The Hopi tribe of North America perform a yearly fertility dance for crops, in which numerous snakes are released into the wild. Snakes are seen also to represent immortality due to their renewal cycle.

Even in the western world, snakes are a symbol of good in places you may not expect. In Greek mythology, Asclepius had a rod entwined with a snake which he used for healing. Today the world over, the symbol of the Rod of Asclepius is found in many medical logos, including the British Medical Association.
Much bad press for snakes may have originated from fear of the fanged and often venomous creatures. But the majority of snakes are harmless to humans, and in fact are vital in their ecosystems. Without snakes birds of prey would suffer, and some insect and rodent species such as rats would escalate hugely in numbers. Combined with their mythological powers in fertility, immortality and healing, this just goes to show that snakes are most definitely the good guys.

2 August 2013

Finance and IT skills? Froglife is recruiting!

Froglife is looking for a new Finance and IT Manager based in our Peterborough office.  This crucial role will help to continue the growth and development of the conservation charity and our associated social enterprise Froglife Ltd.  The successful candidate will become part of the Senior Management Team and support budgeting and fundraising activities across the organisation. 

We're looking for someone with excellent experience and understanding of the charitable sector with sound knowledge of charitable accounting.  IT skills and an interest in this area are also essential, as well as the ability to communicate technical and complex information to non-technical staff members.

You can find a job description and person specification at the Froglife website here. 

The role is part time for three days a week (21 hours) at a salary of £29,164 (pro rata).  

To apply, please send your CV (a maximum of 2 sides of A4) and a cover letter explaining your interest in the role and how you meet the person specification to:

melanie.hamlett@froglife.org

The closing date is Friday, 5th September 2013. Interviews will be held in our Peterborough address on 3rd October 2013  

19 July 2013

Support Froglife: just by shopping online


As you may know, Froglife is part of the Give as You Live scheme as a way of raising funds. 

A big thank you to everyone who has signed up and downloaded the app for this really easy tool.  We also have a silly online video that helped us raise an extra £500 prize from the online shopping scheme here.

How Give as You Live works:
  • You sign up and choose a charity to support
  • You shop online with stores signed up to the scheme (there are over 400 shops now taking part)
  • The stores donate a percentage of your spend to us, without costing you any extra  
You can find out more on how to sign up to raise funds for amphibians and reptiles through Give as You Live here

16 July 2013

The Perfect Pond Season


As well as being a vital component for the British amphibian life cycle, ponds are an important habitat for plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals. These habitats are in decline.  Just adding water to your garden in the form of a clean water pond, bog garden, raised pond or tub pond is a great way to encourage all sorts of wildlife into your garden and help add refigures for wildlife in an increasingly urban environment.

If you’d like to find out more, why not Join Froglife at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes on the 28th of July?
 
We’ll be hosting a  session on creating the perfect pond for amphibians; talking about features that help make a pond perfect, touching on native v’s non-native pond plants and other considerations when creating a perfect pond.

The talks are being given as part of the Perfect Pond season at the London Wildfowl and Wetland Centre.  The season is funded by the British Ecological Society as part of its centenary Festival of Ecology.

You don’t need to book in advance; you can sign up to one of four sessions on the day

(11.30-12.00, 1pm-1.30pm, 2.30pm-3pm, 4pm-4.30pm)

Find out more about what’s going on and how you can join in at: http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit/london/whats-on/2013/06/15/perfect-pond-season/

For more information on adding a pond to your garden download our publication Just Add Water for free.

   




10 June 2013

Hoppy Father’s Day

Looking for some last minute shopping ideas for Father’s Day this Sunday? Why not help wildlife at the same time? 

Froglife has a range of cards and goodies for dads in our online shop:


Froglife's Father's Day card helps raise funds for wildlife

Find our toady Father's Day card here for £1.50 (plus p&p)

Store your files on our handy bamboo 1GB USB memory stick 

Learn extra ideas to inspire children and grandchildren with Froglife's My Wild Life family booklet and DVD


You can also support Froglife by shopping with other online retailers and signing up with Give as You Live.  Sign up for this clever scheme, nominate the Froglife Trust as your chosen charity, and every time you shop stores will donate a percentage of your spend. 
Major shops are signed up with the scheme including B&Q,  M&S,  and Burton Menswear.
Happy Father's Day!

7 June 2013

Froglife Summer Raffle

Following the success of fundraising raffles in both London and Glasgow, this week sees the launch of the Froglife Summer Raffle in Peterborough.  

Over the next couple of months we will be selling raffle tickets for just £1 at several events Froglife will be attending in the city. If you can’t make it to the events, don’t worry, you can buy your tickets online here.

We have some wonderful raffle prizes for your £1 ticket that have been very generously donated:

1st Prize: A family ticket to Burghley House and Gardens 
Top prize: Visit the beautiful Burghley House and enjoy the interactive sculptures in The Garden of Surprises, just outside Stamford (photo courtesy of Burghley House)
2nd Prize: A family day ticket to Sacrewell Farm &Country Centre
Second prize: Come along and join the fun Sacrewell Farm near Peterborough, with historic buildings and farm animals (photo courtesy of Sacrewell Farm)
3rd Prize: A unique hand-crafted cushion made by Judy Goodlet as part of her 60 Cushions Challenge

Third prize: follow the progress of the cushion being specially made for our raffle by Judy Goodlet as part of her 60 Cushions Challenge on her blog (photo courtesy of Judy)


The draw for the raffle will be on Friday 26th July 2013 at the Froglife office and the funds raised will help to support our work protecting wildlife and habitats, and life-changing education projects.  Find out more about our work at the Froglife website here.

With fantastic prizes and a better chance of winning than the lottery, why not take a flutter on this fantastic raffle? Tickets are £1 each and available at the Froglife website here, from Froglife staff at events, or by calling the Froglife office on 01733 558844.

Good luck and thank you to our generous supporters for the prizes!

5 June 2013

Young Offenders put Spring in School’s Children’s Step

Young offenders working with Froglife have given a spring makeover to a wildlife area at The Park LanePrimary School in Whittelsey.  Thanks to funding from the Big Lottery’s Awards for All scheme, the school’s formerly tired and overgrown area has been completely transformed with two new ponds, a dipping platform, a tool shed, an outdoor blackboard and wildlife-friendly planting.  Young offenders have given approximately 432 hours of their time to benefit pupils at the school, the local community and wildlife in the area.

The new outdoor classroom has been supported by over 400 hours of work by young offenders
Froglife has been providing activities for young offenders on reparation orders for Peterborough City Council since 2006, providing over 100 hours of positive and educational activities in all weathers each week.  We have recently secured a contract to help young people in Peterborough improve their local environment for another two years, and will be expanding our work to include preventative measures to help young people at risk of committing offences.  We were also lucky enough to be given extra support in this area by the Bromley Trust.

Activities with us serve as community service, and young people have so far left green footprints across Peterborough – including creating wildlife gardens in school grounds, creating and restoring ponds, building wildlife homes, growing plants and constructing an outdoor classroom at Froglife’s wildlife-friendly allotment.

“Park Lane’s outdoor classroom has been a fantastic project to support,” said James McAdie, who runs FACT - Froglife’s work with young offenders. “It has given the young people I work with the chance to create a wildlife garden from start to finish, learning new skills and giving something back by making an area that will be used and loved by generations of local schoolchildren.”

The Park Lane Primary School will be showing off their new outdoor classroom at an open day on Friday the 7th of June, with teachers and pupils making the most of their newly revamped outdoor space. 

30 May 2013

New Natterchat Magazine Online

The latest edition of Froglife's Natterchat magazine is now online.  The theme for Spring/Summer 2013 is Natural Childhood - and shares conclusions from our My Wild Life project, as well as the latest research on children and nature from the RSPB and National Trust.

This is a hot topic at the moment, with more and more evidence showing the importance of access to the great outdoors to young people, while planned changes to the National Curriculum in England will possibly remove care for the environment as something children should learn in school. 
The Spring/Summer 2013 edition of Natterchat - out now
Natterchat has information on the policy affecting this area of work, and what you can do to help.  One of the important findings of My Wild Life is the role of 'Nature Mentors' - people who take young people outside, show them plants and creatures, and ignite their passion for wildlife.  So, buying wellies and waterproofs as birthday presents, taking the family on a nature walk, or just looking around the local garden or park to see what you can find are great ways to start. 

Natterchat also features Jules Howard talking about his favourite place to see Grass Snakes, news from our Living Water project in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire, and a feature on Vicki who is volunteering with London Dragon Finder.

Each edition features news from our Toads on Roads project, and this time we have some really interesting news from Norbert Florian, who coordinates a similar project in Hungary.

With a giveaway of two Deadly 60 books by Steve Backshall, we think Natterchat is an unmissable read!

17 May 2013

Reflections in the Pond: Your Legacy

This isn’t an easy subject to raise, but it is an important one.  It’s also a good time to start thinking about it, as 13th to 19th May is Dying Matters Awareness Week.
 
Froglife is keen to highlight how everyone can make a difference, even after they have passed away. Making these sort of decisions now can save a lot of anxiety in the longer term, as well as ensuring you leave a lasting impact in the world.

The positive Dying Matters campaign gives 5 things you can do to ‘live well and die well’:

1 - Make a will
2 - Record your funeral wishes
3 - Plan your future care and support
4 - Register as an organ donor
5 - Tell your loved ones your wishes

Find out more at the English Dying Matters website here, and the Scottish website here, where you can also get support and find local events.
Something you might want to include in your will is a legacy - a charitable donation to an organisation or cause that you believe in. Or, you could have a memorial collection at your funeral instead of flowers – this can be something you can organise on behalf of others too.
Supporting new ponds and other habitats leaves a lasting positive impact
Here is our simple guide to supporting a charity through your will and funeral:

Leaving a legacy
Working with your solicitor, you add a short paragraph or ‘codicil’ to your will, and there are a couple of different ways to set this up:
Residuary legacy
This is a gift of all or part of your estate, after all taxes, specific gifts and the cost of administration have been paid. This type of legacy is worded as a percentage or share of your estate. Find out more about wording a
residuary legacy.
Pecuniary legacy
This type of legacy is a fixed sum of money. It is a popular way of giving because you know exactly how much you are giving.  Find out more about wording a
pecuniary legacy.
Memorial collection
You can specify having a collection for charity in your own funeral plans, or you can arrange one on someone else's behalf with help from the venue holding the service or the funeral director.  They can provide a collection box for you on the day, and people can leave donations on their way out.  You then pass on the donations to your chosen charity or charities. 
To carry on collecting after the service, you could set up a Virgin Money Giving page enabling people to donate online and leave personal messages –providing information about this on the order of service means people can also give after the event.
Supporting wildlife and people
If you are thinking about supporting Froglife, you can see where donations go by looking through our projects – every donation helps us to dig and look after ponds, create new habitat, introduce people to amphibians and reptiles, and help protect them from threats such as roads and diseases. 
Photo: Jules Howard

30 April 2013

Listen Out for Toads on Radio 4

The Little Melton Toad Patrol is going to feature on BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme at 3.30pm on Tuesday 30th April and will be repeated on Wednesday 1st May at 9pm. The Patrol is one of many that goes out across the UK to help breeding toads make it safely back to their breeding ponds as part of Froglife's Toads on Roads project.
Common Toad by Oliver Kratz


Presenter Tom Heap visited John Heaser and other volunteers at the Little Melton Patrol in Norfolk  to learn more about the threats facing toads and how the patrol works to help.  It’s part of a show featuring news about the amphibian extinction crisis and conservation efforts to help the species.

You can see a gallery of images from the research for the programme here

29 April 2013

Froglife Looking for Development Officer

Following our funding announcement about support for the River Nene Dragon Finder project from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are now recruiting a Project Development Officer.

The post will be based in our Peterborough office and is a full time, temporary contract for 9 months.  To apply, please read the information at the website here and send a covering letter explaining how you meet the person specification along with your CV by midnight on Sunday the 12th of May.

Dragon Finder is our flagship project, started in London last October.  It brings together habitat conservation work with a creative range of educational and fun events.  Activities include pond creation and management, training, walks, talks, events in swimming pools and boat trips!  We are also developing Scottish Dragon Finder, and the River Nene version will work in Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.  You canfind out more about the Dragon Finder approach at the website here.

The Development Officer for the River Nene project will need to identify and build relationships with project partners, find sites for activities, create habitat plans and ideas for training courses to engage more people in surveying for amphibians and reptiles.  They will create the Action Plan document to submit to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the full grant.

27 April 2013

We All Stand Together: Frogs Find Friends on Global Awareness Day

Wildlife charity Froglife are joining an international day raising awareness about the plight of frogs with an event at the Natural History Museum and a call for supporters to join the amphibian cause.  Save the Frogs Day falls on Saturday 27thApril and was initiated by Dr Kerry Kriger in the USA.  Across the world, one third of amphibian species are threatened with extinction with 31.6% frogs at risk or already extinct.  This makes them more vulnerable than mammals or birds.  The frogs’ cause is gradually gathering more support through this awareness campaign, attracting some unusual friends.

A juvenile common frog by Darren Bealing
“The threats amphibians are facing are severe,” said Mike Dilger, Froglife’s Patron and wildlife presenter.  “It’s just terrifying that we could lose so many species on the planet in the next few years.  There is an urgent need for people to recognise what is going on and take action to help prevent it.”

Save the Frogs, before it's too late: Froglife's Patron Mike Dilger
The main threats facing frogs and other amphibians are habitat loss and degradation, disease, invasive species and pollution.  Action needed to save species include research and protective work around amphibian disease, changes in land management and farming practices.

“Here in the UK, the main species of frog you will find in your garden is widespread but declining,” adds Mike.  “There are concerns that this could become a lot more serious without proactive steps to keep our common frogs (Rana temporaria) flourishing.” 

Among the new friends of frogs is Comedian Graham Fellowes, AKA John Shuttleworth.  He became aware of the threats facing frogs and penned a song to help spread the frog-friendly message.

"My 10 year old son, George wanted to see what frogspawn and tadpoles looked like," explained Graham. "It was Spring but the ponds in my area were all frogless. I realised the only way was to go on Youtube. Fancy that - a kid having to go online to find out what a tadpole looks like. When I was his age, we had frogspawn coming out of our ears! The shock of this realisation galvanised me into contacting Froglife and offering John's services." Graham added.

Love the Frogs: John Shuttleworth hops on board

UK populations of frogs are under threat from disease and habitat loss, with an outbreak of a disease such as Ranavirus or the destruction of local ponds able to wipe out a local population in a short time.  Ranavirus is a disease that Froglife have been aware of since the 1980s and they have been working with the Institute of Zoology on a research project to help stop the spread of the disease.

“We were really concerned to hear that such an iconic animal has become so threatened,” explained Chris Marshall, Brand Manager for Cadbury, the creators of the Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo chocolate bar. “To help raise awareness, we are adding Froglife guides to our website, to help families and young people understand what we can all do to help.” 

Chocolate is better when it's frog shaped: Cadburys help spread the word
Froglife’s Dragon Finder Team are hosting a Save theFrogs Day event in the Wildlife Garden at the Natural History Museum, London. They will be running educational sessions throughout the afternoon, from 12-4pm.  The sessions will begin with a fascinating talk that celebrates the amazing amphibians that we share our planet with, and also sheds light on the reasons for their decline. The talk will be followed by a craft session, in which participants get to decorate and take home their very own tropical frog model. Between the sessions you can also join us for a spot of pond dipping, and get up close with some of our native amphibian species.

What you can do to Save the Frogs:
·         Listen to and share John Shuttleworth’s song 
·         Organic gardening – go chemical free
·         Don’t release pet amphibians (or any other animals) into the wild
·         Don’t move frogs or frogspawn
·         Donate £1-£10 by texting NEWT13 plus your donation amount to 70070
·         Tweet your froggy pics to @froglifers and support #Savethefrogs