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Conservation Projects 2013


28th - 29th September 2013, Dumfries and Galloway

After last year's trip to survey for Natterjack Toads on the Solway Firth, FARG was offered another opportunity to visit Dunfries and Galloway for a weekend of amphibian and reptile conservation work. We obviously hadn't behaved too badly on our first visit!

And so it was that twelve FARG members (the 'Dirty Dozen' perhaps) travelled down to Dumfries and Galloway on the evening of Friday 27th September. FARG's Dave Bell and Pete Minting, Scottish Project Officer for Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, had arranged a variety of tasks for us to get stuck into!

First on the list was a visit to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) site Caerlaverock on Saturday morning to remove gorse which was making the site unfavourable for Natterjack Toads.

Within a couple of hours, we had make quite an impact on the gorse so we stopped for some lunch then drove to a site on the Solway Firth.

There we were shown a scrape in the marginal saltmarsh habitat where Natterjack Toads had successfully bred in the past. Our task for the afternoon was to create two more scrapes to provide additional Natterjack breeding habitat and everyone got stuck in with gusto!

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scrape creation
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Bufo calamita breeding pond

In no time at all, the scrapes were complete and everyone was delighted when Pete found two Natterjacks under a rock - the first that many of us had seen! Lets hope that they find the new scrapes next spring!

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Pete Minting with bufo calamita
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After relaxing at the campsite on Saturday evening, it was an early start on Sunday morning as we made our way to Kirkconnell Flow National Nature Reserve (NNR). This fantastic example of raised bog habitat is home to a myriad of plants and animals including the elusive Adder.

We were hoping to see Adders basking in the glorious morning sunshine and as we picked our way carefully over the ground, beady-eyed Sarah spotted a fairly large male catching some rays! And Sarah also spotted a second smaller adder!

Then it was onto Southerness where a Natterjack breeding pond needed our attention! This ephemeral pond was being encroached by vegetation so we set about clearing the plant material and in the process, found a few Common Frogs and Common Toads.

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Southerness natterjack pond cleared

After lunch it was time to hit the road and head north, reflecting on what a fantastic weekend we'd had! Fingers crossed we'll be making a return visit in 2014!

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