Monday, May 09, 2011

The Big Swab 4th May 2011

We met on 4th May at 7pm with our local ARG group to take part in the
Second National Chytrid Survey (A.K.A the Big Swab 2011)

Our location was Culmore Bridge Cottages near Sandhead where they have a series of ponds managed for wildlife. After receiving our instructions we then sterilised our boots and put on our gloves. Our first task was to catch 30 newts and/or toads but not frogs. We thought this would take some time but the ponds were teaming with life so it didnt take long especially when my other half Pete caught 5 newts in one net including a Great Crested! All the newts, Smooth, Palmate and Great Crested (we didnt catch any toads) were put into seperate plastic bags ready for processing.

Our next task was to identify the species and sex and give it a number.

This one is a male Palmate Newt

Using a sterile medical swab each newt was swabbed along its back legs and the base of its tail.

A female Great Crested Newt

Once processed each newt was returned to the pond unharmed and will hopefully be given the all clear once the results are back from the lab.

Underside of female Great Crested.

After finishing our task we were invited into one of the cottages by our host for coffee and biscuits. We were then given a tour of one of the lovely holiday cottages which are specially designed to allow disabled access, as are the grounds.
Once it was dark we then returned to one of the ponds with torches to see if we could spot any more newts. A couple were seen in the clear water along with several leeches and a Great Diving Bettle larvae.

All in all a good, worthwhile evening spent in great company!

More details about the ARG surveys can be found at

More details of the Culmore Bridge Holiday Cottages can be found at


Catches the Eye said...

Great post thank you very interesting Sheila.

The Glebe Blog said...

I never knew until recently that the Great Crested was under threat of extinction.
Good to see something being done to save the species.