At the beginning of April I attended an Amphibian Survey Training course run by Froglife along with Darran our Assistant Ranger. We learned how to identify native amphibian species and we carried out three methods of pond survey – netting, egg-searching and torching techniques. It was a really interesting couple of hours and the course was completely free of charge. Froglife are doing two more training days in South Lanarkshire, one at Holmhills Wood Community Park on the 19th April and one at Calderglen Country Park on the 11th May. They also have a few other days in other parts of Scotland as well. To book onto a training course held by Froglife visit www.froglife.org.
Our training was at Chatelherault Country Park, it was nice to go to one of the other sites within the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve. The training was in the evening as that is the best time to carry out torch surveys. We were looking for frogs, toads, smooth newt and palmate newt. Smooth newts are not very common in Scotland and you are more likely to find palmate newts.
One of the techniques we learnt was the torching method. We shone a torch in the water slowly scanning from the bank outwards and bank again, we were looking for any amphibians that might be in the water. Often they will want to move away from the light so you will see some movement in the water. We saw a newt within a few minutes and we were careful not to shine the torch directly onto it as the direct light can damage their skin. It can be difficult to tell apart the species when they are in the water, especially the females as you need to see the underneath of their bodies. Luckily we also had the chance to catch them with nets so we could see them more closely!
Laura Preston, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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