September 2021: Meadow mowing - Birnie & Gaddon Lochs LNR
FARG joined the volunteers of Fife Coast and Countryside Trust at Gaddon Loch meadow in September, cutting and removing this year's growth as part of the site management. Doing this helps maintain the meadow, providing habitat not only for pollinators, but also ideal conditions for small mammals and amphibians.
Frogs, toads and newts all use the grasslands after the breeding season. The vegetation gives them a food source in the form of small insects, slugs and snails. It also retains moisture at the base of the herbage, ensuring that these creatures don't become desiccated.
Once the vital work of cutting and removing has been done, the animals can end up being exposed to predation. But don't worry, volunteers to the rescue! Over 35 frogs, at least the same amount of toads, several voles and two newts (one palmate newt and one smooth newt) were carefully collected and transported to the longer vegetation around the edges of the meadow.
What these numbers show is that this continued management is having multiple benefits for wildlife, from early spring when the cowslips appear, all the way to autumn and beyond.
March 2021: Hibernacula building - Bluther wetland
Thank you to Cairneyhill Explorers and West Fife Woodlands Group who helped to create four hibernacula at Bluther wetland near Blairhall - work which will be much appreciated by all those amphibs! This initiative was funded by NatureScot Biodiversity Challenge Fund through the Inner Forth Futures Wetland Habitat Network project, a partnership initiative led by RSPB Scotland. Other work on site included creation of a new pond complex, tree planting and removal of encroaching willow carr.
Aug 2020: Amphibian Survey - Pitmedden Forest
Answering a call from Forestry and Land Scotland, FARG members visited Pitmedden Forest in an effort to find and move any amphibians from an area where scrub clearance, and subsequent tree planting, is due to take place.
Pitmedden hosts good amphibian populations, including the protected great crested newt, which means particular care has to be taken when carrying out major forestry work to avoid disturbance. Luckily, there are numerous ponds scattered throughout the woodland allowing for translocation of any amphibians found.
A hand search of potential rest sites and hibernacula turned up only a few amphibians: one common frog, one palmate newt, and one great crested newt (right). All were successfully moved to the safety of a recognised great crested newt breeding pond within the forest.
Aug 2019: Coul Den LNR volunteer day
The first Saturday of the month of August can mean only one thing: the annual mass volunteer gathering at Coul Den. Members of FARG joined with Fife Conservation Volunteers and Pitcairn Volunteers on a lovely day to cut the meadow.
A really splendid and successful Discovery Day at Loch Leven NNR. Many thanks to SNH for once again hosting a fantastic event. Dallas and Ian were joined by Bryan to brave the early showers, that gave way to windy sunshine, and spread the word about all things herpetefauna in the Kingdom.