We are currently working on the Community Sustainable Drainage System (SUDS) Ponds Project, which is run through the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership and with funding from Angus Environmental Trust. This involves working with landowners and volunteers to improve ponds for wildlife, especially amphibians. It also includes a workshop to make wildlife-ladders to enable wildlife which fall into roadside gullypots, escape up the ladder and avoid a horrible death from drowning or starvation.
I first discovered the hazard to wildlife from gullypots when I worked as a Ranger with a local authority, and consequently ran a three-year project to investigate the scale of the problem. The results showed that gullypots present a huge problem to wildlife, especially small mammals and amphibians, with thousands of animals getting trapped and dying in gullypots every year. We then trialled wildlife kerbs, to see if this special design would enable the animals to bypass the danger zone of the gullypot and consequently escape off the road via a dropped kerb.
There is a video of the project, which involved the local school and Tayside Contracts gullypot cleaners here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j-jQ9hYh3Q&feature=youtu.be
The wildlife kerbs seem to be working well but wildlife still falls into gullypots where there aren’t kerbs on the road and we needed to develop another method to solve this problem. Ravon in the Netherlands had also been trying to find a solution to the problem for a few years and had been trialling a ladder design. Trevor Rose from Friends of Angus Herpetofauna took this design and further developed it to make the amphibian ladder! These are bits of metal joined together to fit the gullypot exactly, and covered with a material that wildlife can grip on to and consequently climb up to escape from the drain (see picture below). We are running the amphibian-ladder making workshop in Murthly on November the 3rd and everyone is welcome to join us (under 16s must be accompanied by an adult). Our perfect pond management days will take place on 29th Sep, 13th Oct & 18th Nov and again, everyone is welcome. Ponds need regular management to prevent vegetation filling the pond – ideally there should be 50% open water in a pond and amphibians need open water in which to spawn. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information and to book your place. Daniele
Thanks to Angus Environmental Trust for funding & Tayside Contracts for their assistance in opening up blocked gullypots!
Amphibian ladder, photo by Catherine Lloyd.
Well, we haven’t been keeping up with doing regular blogs as hoped but we have been very busy with beaver tours, school visits, guided walks and carrying out research into wildlife and buildings…… Last night we had a fabulous Beaver Canoe Safari on the River Tay very close to Perth City Centre, with lots of wildlife sightings, beautiful birdsong and wonderful weather.
We even got quite close to at least two beavers, which can be seen in these films:
Our lovely clients said that even if we hadn’t seen any beavers it would have been a wonderful experience. It’s certainly a very peaceful and calming way to take part in wildlife watching. We hope you’ll join us to experience Perthshire’s amazing wildlife soon! Please contact Daniele on email@example.com to arrange something.
Beaver Canoe Safari on the River Tay
With the ‘Beast from the East’ bringing very cold temperatures and lots of snow, our wildlife will be finding it very difficult to find enough food to eat just to stay alive. Did you know a Blue tit can lose 5% of its body weight overnight as it uses the fat it has built up during the day to keep it warm during the cold night?
We can do a lot to help our wildlife at these times – of course feeding the birds a variety of different food will make a huge difference, as most of their usual food is hidden underneath deep snow. But nest boxes can also be lifesavers. They can provide a safe and secure space where lots of birds can huddle together so they don’t lose so much heat.
We have a whole host of wildlife feeding in Perthshire Wildlife HQ garden just now, with a few additions to the usual. These include Fieldfares, Redpolls, Bramblings, a wild rat, 2 cheeky rabbits (eating more hen food than the hens), a Song thrush, a parliament of rooks (lots of rooks), as well as the usual robins, blackbirds, siskins, chaffinches, tree and house sparrows, dunnocks, blue, great & coal tits, starlings, jackdaws, woodpigeons and collared doves.
The wider the variety of food you offer, the wider the variety of wildlife you will attract.
Fingers crossed for a thaw soon as the cost of bird food soon mounts up!
It’s early January and we’d like to wish all our customers and other wildlife fans a very happy new year.
Every year we donate to a conservation or animal welfare charity and this year we have decided to support Animals Asia for all their work in helping to end the very cruel bear bile trade in the Far East. They recently rescued six bears in Vietnam, which now look forward to a much happier future. More info about the charity can be found on their website here: https://www.animalsasia.org/uk/our-work/end-bear-bile-farming/
Last year we decided to change from a fossil-fuelled to an electric car, as driving is definitely our biggest contribution to our carbon footprint. Making Perthshire Wildlife as sustainable as possible is a priority for us and we use ethical banking & insurers, a green energy supplier, use recycled products and when we do need to make a new purchase, use The Good Shopping Guide for guidance.
This year we look forward to seeing you on a Beaver Tour (on foot or by canoe), Swift Walk, Foraging tour or at any of our other guided walks and events. We’ll be working on a number of consultancy projects too – including swift conservation and wetland habitat management. See you soon we hope!
C Ben Amir Gov, courtesy of Swift Conservation
It’s that time of year again – our summer migrants are heading off to warmer climes and the skies feel distinctly empty. Most of our swifts left in the first fortnight of August, with the few remaining still feeding late chicks in the nest. In the days before their departure it seems that their screaming parties sound even more excited than usual. This is one of the quintessential sounds of summer and I always miss their happy-sounding calls once the birds have gone. Ted Hughes summed up the joy of their arrival in his poem ‘Swifts’ – here’s an excerpt.
From Swifts by Ted Hughes
Fifteenth of May. Cherry blossom. The swifts
Materialize at the tip of a long scream
Of needle . “Look! They’re back! Look! And they’re gone
On a steep
Controlled scream of skid
Round the house-end and away under the cherries.
Suddenly flickering in sky summit, three or four together,
Gnat-whisp frail, and hover-searching, and listening
For air-chills – are they too early? With a bowing
Power-thrust to left, then to right, then a flicker they
Tilt into a slide, a tremble for balance,
Then a lashing down disappearance
They’ve made it again,
Which means the globe’s still working, the Creation’s
Still waking refreshed, our summer’s
Still all to come
There are lots of brilliant swift videos on Youtube – have a look at this one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd3NlfbA7yQ
C Ben Amir Gov, courtesy of Swift Conservation