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

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Auchrochar Wetland Stranraer 2nd May 2011

A beautiful sunny but blustery day and even Loch Ryan looked tropical!

Just outside Stranraer there is a wetland that can be seen from the A75.
Auchrochar Wetland is an SSSI and a wildlife haven (sadly managed for shooting!)

We startled a roe deer which was soon followed by 2 others running down the track.

This Greylag Goose then emerged from the reeds making a lot of noise...

...we soon found out why as it was joined by another adult and several babies which it lead away to safety.

We then heard this little fella who must have got seperate from them and started to follow us!

Pete herded it in the right direction and it then heard its parents calling and was soon reunited.

Mallards nesting with a Greylag guard!

Micro moth probably Epiblema species

Flying Greylag

The wetland looking towards the A75

A great habitat, Reed, Sedge and Willow Warblers heard


Lovely clear water with plenty of life in it

Looking back down the path

Mallard ducklings were hiding under these trees

April Moths and Caterpillars

We occasionally put out a moth trap but many of these moths are caught at the kitchen window, at the outside light or just seen on our wanders. Here is a selection from April, I hope I have named them all correctly!

Water Carpet

Twin Spotted Quaker

Parsnip Moth

Mottled Grey

March Moth

Light or Dark Arches Caterpillar

Hebrew Character

Garden Tiger

Flame Carpet

A stunning female Emperor

Early Tooth Striped

Early Thorn

Early Grey


Double Striped Pug

Dotted Border

Diurnea fagella

Dark Tussock Moth caterpillar at different stages

Dark Sword Grass

Common Quaker

Common Heath

Clouded Silver

Clouded Drab


Brown Silverline

Angle Shades

Agonopterix ciliella or heracliana

Hebrew Character

Common Quaker

Rush Veneer