Amphibian crossing rescue and first reptile of 2010!

Last night after a day of heavy showers I knew amphibian activity would be high, with vast numbers of Common frogs (Rana temporaria) and Palmate newts (Lissotriton helveticus) making their way to their breeding pond. Upon arriving at the pond after nightfall with the help of my friend Tom, we rescued well over a hundred and fifty frogs from the road next to the pond, as well as a dozen or so newts. Thankfully there was only a few fatalities as the road is not too busy and upon returning this morning I moved a further 40 or so frogs to safety into the pond.

In addition today with hazy sunshine (around 10C), but very strong wind, I observed the first reptile of 2010, a female Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara). Despite the strong wind up on the moors this animal was out basking and was an unusual green colouration, sadly I wasn’t able to get a photograph before it riggled away into the heather.

By Matt Wilson

Frog Walk

Here I present a few ‘in situ’ or photographs of animals as and where they were found without any interaction from my part, thereby presenting a more natural image. I went for a walk today along the country lanes around my village and saw many dozens of Common frogs (Rana temporaria) making their way to their breeding ponds. One such pond was filled with several hundred individuals that has probably the highest frog density in my local area. The heavy rain today certainly brought out far higher numbers than when I visited the area several days ago. Every year when the weather warms up hundreds of frogs leave the their hibernation dens deep inside the dry stone wall that borders the pond, and find themselves in the middle of a country lane with the added problem of climbing up over the wall and into the pond itself. Apart from the frogs and numerous Palmate newts, this area is not rich in amphibian species despite seeming appropiate for several other amphibian species which are absent. A wooded valley with numerous ponds and a fishing lodge is home to a huge population of Common toads (Bufo bufo) which is only a short distance from where I live, as well as Smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris). But for whatever reason both are absent from the areas immediately surrounded where I live.

By Matt Wilson

Photo from the father!

My Dad is currently on holiday on the Canary Island of Fuertaventura, and he sent me this image of an East Canary Island Gecko (Tarentola angustimentalis). This is an endemic species on the Canary islands that would appear quite common, it is also found on Lanzarote, as well as a number of islets surrounding to two main eastern Canary Islands.

East Canary island gecko (Tarentola angustimentalis)

By Matt Wilson

Frogs and newts on the move!

After one of the coldest winters I have ever experienced, it seems that finally the temperatures have begun to rise and the amphibians have left their winter refuges. Only a few days ago night temperatures were still below zero, but as of today the day temperature reached 9C and night was a much improved 5-6C. I visited my local pond to find two amplexus pairs of Common frogs (Rana temporaria) along with a further 20 or so individuals making their way to the pond. I expect the next time it rains this will be enough to bring out every frog in the area in the mass migration towards the breeding pond. Furthermore on turning some stones I found a Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) along with another that had been run over.

Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus)

Common frog (Rana temporaria)

Common frog (Rana temporaria)

Common frog (Rana temporaria)

By Matt Wilson