This year we are donating to ARG (UK), the Amphibian and Reptile Groups network for the UK, to help funding towards a conference on 29th/30th January 2011. In addition we donate to Handicap International UK, an independent aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Presently active in Pakistan after the floods focusing on providing access to clean drinking water, temporary shelters and survival kits for those affected, to hopefully prevent the development of epidemics. Support HI(UK) and check out their new website.
Following ecology surveys to seven housing-association bungalow sites, GPM Ecology has been compiling planning reports for each site during November. The schemes involve over 65 single-bed properties, demolished and refurbished into two-bed bungalows. Although ecological issues are generally of low concern for such developments, evidence of Pipistrelle bats were located beneath fascias of flat-roofed bungalows (pictured below), with up to five different roosts identified at this site. These fascias provide a similar roost site to bat boxes, as recommended by Bat Conservation Trust (click logo below).
In spring GPM Ecology discovered the third known breeding population of American Bull-frog Lithobates catesbeianus in the UK. By September Natural England commissioned 'Herpetologic Ltd' to monitor and commence a control program of this non-native amphibian. If populations establish they could drastically impact wildlife on UK ponds, with frogs growing up to 20cm and tadpoles up to 15cm in length! In October GPM Ecology assisted 'Herpetologic Ltd' to monitor the population. Frogs are distinct with a deep cow-like 'call' - feel free to listen below! For more info click on the NNSS logo to the right/below.
GPM Ecology has recently completed initial trapping for our 25th Great Crested Newt (GCN) mitigation development license, since 1998, averaging two licenses per year. At this Grade II Listed-house refurbishment GCN turned-up over 750m from the breeding pond and even within the derelict property. Over this period licenses have ranged from major housing developments; to temporary utility pipe-line disturbances; to landscaping school playing-fields. Where possible we do try to avoid development licenses which cause expense and timing delays, but sometimes this is unavoidable!
14th August headlines in The Guardian alerted the public of a comprehensive Spending Review towards an 'Austerity Countryside' to be unveiled by the Coalition Government. The cuts to be reviewed on 30th October, will result in extensive job losses to government officials responsible for managing wildlife, could impact status of important wildlife sites and grants available to various wildlife projects! It is still not too late to persuade those in power not to slash spending on conservation and wildlife-friendly farming. Have your say by accessing the DEFRA website and click on the banners below for more information:
11th July saw a huge fire at Frensham Common. Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group plotted the area of burn, covering about 60ha, which was finally out by 21st July. As shown on the plan this was a key area for Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake. Click on the SARG logo to see photos of the incident. On 31st July nearly two weeks after the fire SARG managed to rescue 20 reptiles (4 Sand Lizard, 14 Common Lizard, 2 Adders and 1 Slow-worm), following a call for help from Steve Webster, Frensham Common Ranger.
6th June saw the 'BBC Springwatch Wild Day Out' in Shalford Park, Guildford, Surrey. A BBC Breathing Places event hosted by Guildford Borough Council and organised by Surrey Wildlife Trust. As part of the event Gareth presented a 20 minute talk on the reptiles and amphibians of Surrey. This was the first ever Springwatch Wild Day Out in Surrey, with over 7000 people attending. Click 'play' below to hear Gareth being interviewed by Brooklands FM radio presenter Suzanne Hunter.
At the start of May GPM Ecology provided some hands-on adder training for WYG Consultants in Hampshire. During May we also trialed several 'Leapers and Creepers' sessions for Tennysons Childrens Centre and Haslemere Young Parents. A half-hour 'show and tell' with locally caught amphibians and reptiles, proved popular and an ideal May event to show young pre-school children and parents the animals, their life-stages and where they live.