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Peter
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Posted: 07 Mar 2009 Topic: The toads are crossing roads in Wales



An update on the situation, 19 toads yesterday and 9 palmate newts.  (Mark, do you have images of yesterdays bucket contents?)

6 of the toads were unlaiden females returning in the other direction.   Such animals are released instantly on the forest side of the road and not placed in the bucket, and as you will note, we keep count of the numbers.

8 toads (3 female and 5 male) and at least 3 palmate newts (all female) were run over and killed during the period that we were on watch.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lynne, Jackie and Phil for their efforts at the Neath toad crossing site, and Mark, Suzy, Chaela, Jess, Emma, Hannah and Lily for their assistance at various times that they have been able to at the other two sites.

The two bucket question;   We are now using two buckets per pair when possible but not to seperate the toads into sexes, but to seperate the species as an increasing number of newts is on the move (either that or we are getting more proficient at finding them) and a more realistic stress factor is toads trampling newts in a bucket.   Last night one pair of toads were found crossing already in amplexus, and one pair got together in the bucket due to our bucket orchestrated "matchmaking".  Again we saw no sign of "knots" forming, and the animals were released in such a way that the pairs and single females were not placed among numbers of eager males, (common sense) although I expect that the pairs and females may well have found themselves in such a situation once in the breeding pond.

[QUOTE=herpetologic2]

I dont think that the males arrive with the female's at exactly the sametime. Males wait for females in prominent positions (middle of the road) and hitch a lift

[/QUOTE]

I don`t know if you are experiencing similar things in Hampshire Jon, but the anuran breeding season here in Wales is noticably less explosive and a good deal more protracted than in years gone by.  Some males wait for females at the bottom of the pond as has been observed at several sites local to me.   Some males ambush females terrestrially or even in the road as you stated.  Some males are still travelling to the breeding site when some females are on their way back from it. 

At the site mentioned by Mark in the first post, although the majority of the animals moving away from the breeding site have been female, a few have also been male.  The later arrivals moving in the opposite direction are also of mixed gender.

 

The situation was the same at another site last year with animals of both sexes moving in both directions over a relatively lengthy period of over a fortnight.  We employ the tactic of observing an animal if unsure of it`s intended destination (without blinding it with the lamp of course) for a period, to assess to the best of our ability whether the animal is; perhaps disorientated due to a near miss with some car headlights, or travelling to or from the breeding site.

[QUOTE=herpetologic2]Taking all the males and placing them into buckets with a few females may increase the pressure on the female in terms of multiple mating which drowns and kills female toads.[/QUOTE]

Whilst in the bucket perhaps yes, although no knots have formed in the bucket so far this year and as has been mentioned already, consideration is given to the animal`s situation (i.e. whether in amplexus, or the animal`s gender) when released.   The bucket contents is not just tipped out and left to get on with it in a heap.

[QUOTE=herpetologic2]Trying to give the females a fighting chance not to be swamped with males all at once is probably a good idea.[/QUOTE]

As we are doing, as well as giving them a fighting chance against being run over by a car.

[QUOTE=herpetologic2]The value of collecting toads from roads is questioned just as this suggestion would be questioned to its use in toad conservation.[/QUOTE]

Not if the simple common sense measures taken to reduce the instances of the obvious potential problem of bucket orchestrated spawning knots such as releasing the pairs and females away from the "gang" of surplus males as has been mentioned above (hardly rocket science) are taken no, the value of collecting toads from roads is not questioned at all Jon.

[QUOTE=herpetologic2]When you gently pick up a male toad you will have them clasp your fingers but also if you pick them up they will squeak - a release call while females do not make any noise.[/QUOTE]

"Empty" females also make a slightly different call as you must have experienced?

[QUOTE=herpetologic2]What is the point of collecting toads on roads?[/QUOTE]

Quite obviously the point of collecting toads from roads is to attempt to lessen the effect of a lack of ability on the amphibians part to be able to adapt almost overnight in evolutionary terms with the sudden appearance (again in evolutionary terms) of the virtually insurmountable barrier of tarmac roads and the heavy traffic that they bring with them.

[QUOTE=herpetologic2] if you do not count the males and females then you are missing out on useful information.[/QUOTE]

...and unless one has a vast team of knowledgeable workers when it is far more likely that the case will be a very small team of willing, able and unpaid volunteers with no agenda other than active conservation of the species concerned with no monetary gain involved spread thinly across multiple sites, then the object of the exercise (which is to increase the numbers of toads that successfully manage to reach the breeding site, not just to collect data!) is defeated as increased numbers of animals are destroyed on the road whilst the volunteers pontificate and faff around at the side of the road deciding gender and counting and not collecting animals at risk. 

Get real though Jon! The information you mention would indeed be useful, and if you feel inclined to send us half a dozen experienced toad counters (that would be two per site so far identified, so not being greedy!) and pay for their travelling & accomodation expenses not to mention loss of earnings over a two week or longer period then we may be able to impliment the data collection that you suggest.

Until such times as the ARG becomes an ARGonaught however we must do our best with what is at our disposal.

Peter39879.3816550926





Peter
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Posted: 07 Mar 2009 Topic: The toads are crossing roads in Wales



I would also like to thank Dr Dan Forman of the Conservation and Ecology Research Team Swansea (CERTS) based at the Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Swansea University who also happens to be SWWARG`s honorary president for recruiting greatly valued helpers from the University to assist us with the toads on roads campaign.   At this rate, we may get our data collecters as well!





Peter
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Posted: 07 Mar 2009 Topic: Blackwater Adders



Great pics John

 

Both look like males to me







Peter
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Posted: 08 Mar 2009 Topic: The toads are crossing roads in Wales



Hi Jon,

 

Good to chew the fat again although it would be better over a beer like last time.

 

We are on a recruitment drive for students to assist with the toad crossings and monitoring and recording where possible.  It is something that we were intending to achieve from the start bearing in mind that everything concerned with these sites is still very much in the preparatory awareness raising stages.   I am pleased to say that two more recruits joined the patrol yesterday evening.     Remember though, we have three sites to cover, two of which were only very recently identified by us. 

 

The ˘get real÷ comment was referring to the availability of knowledgeable and regular volunteers locally.  Like I said, we are already on an all out recruitment drive, with help from Dan Forman and Swansea University so we are doing our best.  Most of Dan`s contacts are studying either biology or zoology so we have a fighting chance of recruiting recorders, itĂs a question of how often people can attend.

 

You said;

 

Yes I agree that collecting toads
from roads is important but we do need to find ways of
collecting data in a simple way (
e.g. numbers of adults,
females & males each year etc) for volunteers and
possibly in a more detailed way on selected populations
using students......

 

Agreed Jon, it all boils down to the same thing though, a need to recruit and educate regular volunteers.  We are going to great effort to do so, considering that SWWARG was not in existence this time last year, a total of ten volunteers attending yesterday isn`t bad.   Tonight though I have only three.

 

Jon, I`m sorry to hear about the apparent lack of awareness regarding dumping buckets full of toads in Hampshire.  This is something that we should perhaps jointly address and set out a protocol regarding avoidance of releasing females and hoards of males together. 

 

Your site in Hampshire sounds extremely interesting with many variables to consider.  The single site that we have been referring to in this thread however has no salad farm or such like, just woodland (here I speculate due to a lack of knowledge re the site as it is new to us) but it would not be unreasonable to assume that there is little or no use of pesticides or fertiliser in the forest (I will investigate further).  The other side is lowland scrub, a canal and several shallow temporary water bodies. I have heard anecdotal accounts of grass snakes on the aquatic habitat side of the road at the site, and will investigate further regarding this.   So far, the only interesting anecdotal reports that I have heard regarding the site point to there being noticeable numbers of road casualty toads only in recent years.  I have observed that there are numerous predators in the area, and I imagine it likely that buzzards and corvids etc are clearing up any bodies pretty quickly (speculation again).  It is all worth investigating however as you rightly state, but at this stage, prevention of road casualties takes precedence.

 

You said;

 

 

With lower numbers more you would assume would
survive the crossing and so carry on the tradition of
crossing the road while the new recruits do not cross
the road (I speculate)

Now this suggests possibly that the toad population has
adapted to the road - they hole up on the right side of
the road and so do not cross the road anymore because
any toadlets that make their way across the road would
not find suitable habitat.

I would suggest that the road kill may not have been the
driving force for the reduction in status (numbers)
based on the numbers collected on the road. It is
possibly the agricultural practices on the adjoining
farm.

Interesting theories.  I would have thought that both factors mentioned, (salad farm and road) would be contributing factors to the decline in toad numbers, it would be interesting to know for certain.

 

You said;

 

Also the salad production of the farm is ceasing this
year. I would like to put in place new habitats on the
terrestrial habitat side of the road.

Good news.

 

I have just got word that yet another new university student will be joining me this evening so there is hope for a recording team yet.  The main problem though is regularity of attendance, we may struggle on nights to have even enough people present to cover the stretch adequately, (such is the case this evening) and on other occasions we may have a surplus which would mean that recording data would be more practicable.  This will not be consistent however.

 

All the best,

 

Peter

 

P.S.   Good luck with getting students involved down at your neck of the woods. 

 

I have now just had confirmed the fact that we have a pair of volunteers attending one of the sites this evening and two others joining me at the ˘fast road÷ site.   The third site has a local crew attending so all three sites are covered again this evening.  It`s not likely that we will have time to record all data required with these numbers, but we will do our best.  Cutting down the number of animals destroyed takes priority though.







Peter
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Posted: 09 Mar 2009 Topic: Wall Lizard Survey Methodology



I must admit, I did think that this forum was a place for sharing knowledge.

 

I for one would certainly like to know more regarding muralis survey techniques so far employed.

Peter39881.6306018519





Peter
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Posted: 10 Mar 2009 Topic: Wall Lizard Survey Methodology



Hi Steve,

 

I don`t think anybody was after specific site locations.    Survey methodology was the thread title, and that is what interests me, not locations.

As the species are more obvious than the natives, maybe there is not much to add though!







Peter
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Posted: 10 Mar 2009 Topic: The toads are crossing roads in Wales



[QUOTE=Baby Sue]

WhatĂs a palmate?

[/QUOTE]

 

Hi Sue.   A palmate is a species of newt that is widespread throughout Britain.







Peter
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Posted: 10 Mar 2009 Topic: Edible frog?



Hi Sue,

 

It`s a common frog.   One with a lot of inky black markings but definately a common frog.







Peter
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Posted: 12 Mar 2009 Topic: Wall Lizard Survey Methodology



Thanks Jon, Steve and David for the info.





Peter
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Posted: 12 Mar 2009 Topic: The toads are crossing roads in Wales



Info re toads for Jon,

 

Last night at the forest road site we had two teams of two.  Two buckets per team, not for seperating genders but seperating species.

All toad pairs in amplexus were released a short distance from the single males as per norm.  No spawning knots were formed in the buckets, although half of the pairs did get together in the buckets.

We had a tally up and this was the result;

Palmate newts - 23 females, 12 males, 3 dead.
Toads - 10 pairs, 8 males, 3 empty females heading back, 6 dead.
Plus 2 frogs also heading back.

Thanks to Mark, Alec and Lily for their help.








Peter
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Posted: 13 Mar 2009 Topic: The toads are crossing roads in Wales



Yesterday`s count was particularly interesting genderwise.   Females outnumbered males which I suppose does fit in with the fact that females generally arrive at the spawning site later than males.

 

12th March - 6.30 ű 8pm - circa 10 degrees celsius ű not raining but had been raining throughout the day

Toads

3 dead

3 empty females heading back

7 pairs in amplexus

11 females

1 male

Palmate newts

3 male ű 8 female

 

Needless to say that on this occasion we did not release the animals seperately as females significantly out numbered males.

 

 

Thanks to Hannah and Chaela for their help.

Peter39886.4271527778





Peter
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Posted: 14 Mar 2009 Topic: Strange behaviour?



Hi Tim, it sounds like you witnessed a spawning knot.  Several males attempt amplexus with the same female which in the worst case scenario can result in the female drowning.

The unattached animals that you saw were almost certainly all males, waiting for further females to arrive.







Peter
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Posted: 16 Mar 2009 Topic: frogs



Hi Rob,

 

Every common frog that I have ever heard sounded like a continuous burp.  Ive never heard a common frog making the "ribbit ribbit" sound.

The frogs in your excellent picture look like typical spring time coloured males.

 

Have you seen any male grassies yet?

Peter39888.1785416667





Peter
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Posted: 19 Jan 2008 Topic: Dorset Sand Lizards



I`m new here and just wanted to show my appreciation at having found this forum and reviving a life long passion. I thought I would share a couple of old snaps that I took in the past.

 

 







Peter
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Posted: 20 Jan 2008 Topic: David Birdon Bill Oddies Wildside



I too saw this programme.  Very nice.  It tickled me when the programme partcipants went about their challenge of filming all 6 native reptile species in one day, that smooth snakes popped up everywhere and the biggest struggle was to find a viviparous lizard!  David Bird caught one for filming right at the end and saved the day.

 

I also have the programme to thank for helping me discover this forum.  I typed in "David Bird", as I found the programme and David`s work interesting, and Google led me here.







Peter
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Posted: 20 Jan 2008 Topic: Dorset Sand Lizards



Thanks for the welcome Suzi.

No Sand lizards where I live either, (South Wales) I travelled to a childhood haunt in Dorset to find the animals above.







Peter
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Posted: 20 Jan 2008 Topic: DO WE NEED A HERPS CoNFESSIoN COLUMM



Hmmm,  my confession is really just an embarrassing story of how I got bitten whilst trying to photograph a (non native) captive herp whilst it was feeding.  I had a broken collar bone at the time so my arm was in a sling.  I was looking through the viewfinder whilst wiggling a tasty morsel in front of the subject.  I got bitten twice!

Anyone care to guess what did the damage to my finger?







Peter
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Posted: 21 Jan 2008 Topic: DO WE NEED A HERPS CoNFESSIoN COLUMM



[QUOTE=Alan Hyde]Hmmmm, my guess is some sort of arboreal boid like... a cooks tree boa, Green tree python or emarald?[/QUOTE]

I can see why you thought that but no, not any of those species.  Here`s a clue; the animal that did it has legs.







Peter
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Posted: 21 Jan 2008 Topic: DO WE NEED A HERPS CoNFESSIoN COLUMM



[QUOTE=Alex2]Was going to say a small or juvenile Varanid but will go with Ceratophrys?[/QUOTE]

You are so close with  Ceratophrys that I`ll give it to you.  The real culprit is pretty much an evolutionary parallel to the South American Ceratophrys genus.

It was this fellah;

Pixycephalus adspersus (African Bullfrog) this chap is affectionately known as "Jabba".  I have been hand feeding him for years with absolutely no problems at all.  The bite incident was entirely and utterly my own fault.  Trying to look through the viewfinder of a camera which one is holding with an arm that is in a sling whilst wriggling a dead mouse in front of a three and a half pound in weight eating machine was just asking for it to be honest.

[QUOTE=Alex2]

[QUOTE=armata]Perhaps a Tokay gecko they can bite sore![/QUOTE]

Been the victim of this myself, Tony isn`t wrong ;).And what a bark Tokays have!

[/QUOTE]

Tell me about it!  My Tokays used to bite my gloved hand so tenaciously that they would hang on to the glove long after it had been removed from my hand as you can see here.







Peter
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Posted: 21 Jan 2008 Topic: Dorset Sand Lizards



Thanks Tim.  Yes they aren`t bad for a Brownie Automatic!

Here`s a little one of the habitat;

A couple more;







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