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Caleb
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Posted: 20 Feb 2003 Topic: Some links



It's a bit quiet here, isn't it?

I just thought I'd submit a few links to do with native herps that people might find useful.

Species information:

http://www.hcontrst.f9.co.uk/noframes/animals/britherps.htm

http://www.darkwave.org.uk/~caleb/ukherp.html (my site)

Biological action plans for the UK:

http://www.ukbap.org.uk/amphibians.htm

http://www.ukbap.org.uk/reptiles.htm

DEFRA's wildlife law guide:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/paw/publications/law/contents.htm

Organisations:

http://www.froglife.org/

http://www.english-nature.org.uk

http://www.jncc.gov.uk

http://www.hcontrst.f9.co.uk/ (HCT)

http://www.thebhs.org

 




Caleb
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Posted: 06 Mar 2003 Topic: Inbreeding depression



On the subject of smooth snakes, though the adults have a very small home range, I think it's the juveniles that will be colonizing new areas. Obviously in isolated habitats, there's nowhere new for them to go to.

If their behaviour is a result of inbreeding depression, then animals from mainland Europe, where they are more common, will exhibit different behaviour. Does anyone here have any experience with continental smooth snakes?

I'm always struck by the fact that the Romney Marsh marsh frogs are all descended from only a dozen individuals- they're still thriving and spreading after 30 years.

 




Caleb
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Posted: 10 Mar 2003 Topic: Inbreeding depression



Quote: Originally posted by Gemma Fairchild on 08 March 2003

(The Marsh Frog was introduced in 1935)


Yes, I thought 70 and typed 30!




Caleb
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Posted: 10 Mar 2003 Topic: Rate of neoteny in smooth newts?



I've been intrigued for a while by the rate of neoteny in smooth newts that I've seen.

I used to regularly observe newts at a number of ponds in Cambridgeshire, and saw neotenous smooth newts occasionally in about half of these ponds. The vast majority of these were females, I only saw a neotenous male twice.

My father also told me recently that he used to catch 'loads' of neotenous newts in ponds near Cambridge in the 1960s.

I now live in a more palmate-friendly area, don't see as many smooth newts in general, and have never seen a neotenous newt here.

I wonder whether the Cambridgeshire area is more conducive to the development of neoteny, whether the populations there carry genes for neoteny, or whether large smooth newt populations elsewhere have a similar rate of neoteny?

Has anyone else found 'hotspots' for neoteny, or seen neotenous smooth newts in other parts of the country?




Caleb
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Posted: 12 Mar 2003 Topic: Rate of neoteny in smooth newts?



I saw neotenous newts in a large clay pit, a disused brick sheep dip, a horse-watering pond in rough pasture (I described this one in BHS Bulletin 31), and a concrete fire pond.

All of these ponds had plenty of non-neotenous newts in as well.

The concrete fire pond was a 'typical' neotenous newt site: vertical sides, deep water, surrounded by unsuitable habitat (concrete airstrip, intensive arable crops). The sheep dip had vertical brick on three sides, and a gentle slope on the other side. I once saw juvenile newts climbing up the brick walls  (about 1.5m high) rather than leaving by the slope.

The clay pit and horse pond were not steep sided, and had plenty of
terrestrial habitat around them.

The horse pond and sheep dip dried out completely during several summers in the early 90s, and I've not seen neotenous newts there since.

As for neotenous smooth newts losing their gills in tap water- I have never been able to keep a smooth newt neotenous for more than a few weeks.



Caleb
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Posted: 12 Mar 2003 Topic: Early adder sightings



I remember reading a while ago (I think it was in Malcolm Smith's book) that adders occasionally come out on warm days in winter, and have been seen basking on snow.

Has anyone here seen them in the winter? The earliest I've ever seen up here in NE England was mid April, the latest was late September. I'm sure someone can do better than that...




Caleb
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Posted: 17 Mar 2003 Topic: Early adder sightings



Well, I've sort of answered my own question...

I saw quite a few adders out in County Durham yesterday... there was frost on the ground, and ponds were frozen over, but adders were out basking in the sunnier spots.

There was also plenty of frogspawn about, but no toadspawn yet, so it looks like our adders come out at about the same time as the toads.




Caleb
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Posted: 18 Mar 2003 Topic: Torching for crested newts



I don't know if you all know this already, but it's recommended that you should apply for a licence under the wildlife and countryside act if you intend to go 'torching' for crested newts:

http://www.english-nature.org.uk/science/licensing/faq_a&r.asp

I was told a while ago that torching licences will be freely issued. The only condition is that all sightings have to be recorded in an annual return (as with all licences).




Caleb
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Posted: 20 Mar 2003 Topic: Pool Frog reintroduction



I've just heard about the latest plans regarding the pool frog. Reintroductions to Norfolk are planned for 2004, using Swedish stock. The site used may not be the site where the last native pool frogs were known.

There's some background on the pool frog on my site at:

http://www.darkwave.org.uk/~caleb/poolfrog.html

and on the HCT's site at:

http://www.hcontrst.f9.co.uk/noframes/animals/pool_frog.htm

The Biodiversity Action Plan is here:

http://www.ukbap.org.uk/asp/UKPlans.asp?UKListID=545




Caleb
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Posted: 26 Mar 2003 Topic: France Declares War on American oInvaders



Does anyone have any extra information about the Kent/Sussex bullfrogs?

All I know is what is in the English Nature press release here:

http://www.english-nature.org.uk/news/story.asp?ID=12




Caleb
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Posted: 31 Mar 2003 Topic: Targeted survey vs. accidental sighting



I was just wondering whether most people's herp (especially reptile)sightings happen when they are particularly looking for that species, or when they just happen across them...

I think the majority of mine are accidental, except when I visit sites that I already know support that species. Common lizards and slow-worms in particular- I feel that they live in such a wide variety of habitats that they could occur almost anywhere. And of course there are plenty of seemingly ideal sites where they don't occur!

Is it just that I'm not 'tuned in' to these species, or do other people have similar experiences?




Caleb
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Posted: 01 Apr 2003 Topic: rescued tadpoles



There's a paper on tadpole nutrition in Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) here:

http://www.podarcis.nl/downloads/2002/3/eng/Wood-frog-3-3-UK.pdf

(you might need to register here: http://www.podarcis.nl/register/register_eng.html)

The authors used combinations of soy meal and corn meal to vary protein levels, and got best results with 25% protein, using 50% cornmeal, 50% soy meal.

Personally, I use blanched lettuce (just pour boiling water over it and leave it for a few minutes) and occasional fish flakes.




Caleb
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Posted: 01 Apr 2003 Topic: Targeted survey vs. accidental sighting



Quote: Originally posted by Gemma Fairchild on 31 March 2003

I do get a strong feel for a site sometimes these days, and will very often find things just where I would expect to.


I find I'm getting a better feel for sites with experience- I haven't got a great deal of past experience with adders for instance, so I notice that I'm getting better at finding them.

My point about common lizards and slow-worms though, is that I've seen them loads of times, but I don't think that I am really getting a feel for their habitat.




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Posted: 02 Apr 2003 Topic: Is the Common Lizard thriving?



I often visit a large Forestry Commission site which has lots of 'pockets' of common lizards. They seem to favour different areas each year- they'll disappear very quickly from overgrown or shaded areas, but increase in recently opened-out areas. I don't know whether the overall population is in increase or decline, though.


Caleb
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Posted: 09 Apr 2003 Topic: Is Aesculapian snake still around?



I don't know if you've seen my page at http://www.darkwave.org.uk/~caleb/ukintro.html

on the introduced species...

Beebee & Griffith's book implied that they were still around, but gave no references. It might be worth emailing them to ask where the information came from.

I visited the area in the late 80s and had a good look for them, but with no success.




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Posted: 14 Apr 2003 Topic: Palmate Newts and Tractor Ruts



I've seen palmates in puddles about the same size as tractor tyre ruts. Again, it was near to a large pond. I suspected that this was just the first water they came across, and they stayed there rather than moving on. These puddles did actually produce some reasonable sized larvae, though I don't know if any metamorphosed.

Smooth newts in newspaper, and nowhere else, is somewhat odd- was there any cover elsewhere in the water? I've found lots of smooth newts in clumps of dead leaves at the bottom of ponds, I guess the newspaper might be similar.

I've found that all three species like coming out in strong sunshine- I always visit ponds in the daytime before I go at night, and I usually see newts in much the same places in daytime, just in smaller numbers.

Have you had much success with bottle traps? I've not used them for years, I never had much success with them, even in ponds that I knew had lots of newts in.

 




Caleb
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Posted: 23 Apr 2003 Topic: Some neo shots



Alan-

could you tell us a bit more about how you take these photos, and what equipment you use?

I'm relatively inexperienced at photography- I've used a Pentax P30 for a few years, with a 28-80mm lens, and extension tubes for closeups. This is fine for animals that stay still, and for posed setups, but I find it hard to get close enough to skittish animals. I've recently got a Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera, which is also excellent for closeups, but again needs to be too close for active animals.

Were these pictures (and the others you've posted) with animals that you'd caught and posed, or as you found them?




Caleb
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Posted: 23 Apr 2003 Topic: Great-crested newts and fish



I know little about fish- but I suspect the smaller, more carnivorous species are worse.

Sticklebacks in particular seen very bad for newts- I've seen them eating vast amounts of smooth and palmate newt larvae in garden ponds, and I expect that small crested newt larvae would be eaten just as readily.

I can't image that large carp would hunt newt larvae, and I would expect them to be put off by the venom of adult cresteds.




Caleb
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Posted: 23 Apr 2003 Topic: Some neo shots



Alan-

thanks for the info. I have been concerned about being too close to an adder a couple of times while taking photos, but I rarely get that close! I hope your bite wasn't too serious?




Caleb
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Posted: 24 Apr 2003 Topic: Captive slow-worm



Gemma beat me to it...

but I'll just add that there's a database of herp captive longevity (mostly from zoos) at

http://www.pondturtle.com/longev.html




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