Jon Cranfield

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

the latest from the churchyard

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 at 8:08 am

The reptiles in my local churchyard are gradually increasing. The first slowworm was a female on the 17th Feb. Alex has a keen interest in the wild area particularly looking for slowworms.

The totals seen are in the mid 20s already in march. Alex has been wrangling slowworms on a few occasions as you can see from the photos.

Some real old males are turning up and this last weekend the first viviparous lizard was spotted.

The felt tiles need to be reset so that the dead vegetation can recover. I am planning to test whether smaller felts are less effective for finding slowworms. There has been much debate recently over the use of the standard size of refugia or cover objects.

We need data to back this up so I thopught I can add to the pool of data that suggests that standard sizes are better than smaller sized materials.

I will post the results on this blog in due course. I have been monitoring the reptile population for the last two seasons. Highest count was 150 reptiles last year.

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the big swab 2011 latest

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I have just heard from Freya Smith from IOZ about the Chytrid sampling workshop. The first sample from the south west has been collected thanks to DRAG CARG and other people on the course.

There are plans to carry out two sampling sessions in Hampshire. I am going to report on these in due course.

Sampling sites in Essex also include Writtle college and alpine newt sites in the county.

The project is funded by DEFRA and is led by the institute of Zoology of London or IOZ in partnership with ARG UK. Its a great project and I am pleased to be involved with it. #thebigswab2011

freya smith photo from todays chytrid workshop

freya smith photo from todays chytrid workshop

swabbing a palmate newt in Devon 20th March 2011

swabbing a palmate newt in Devon 20th March 2011

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the Essex ponds are very polluted

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm

This last week I have visited the Nevendon Road Mitigation site and tested the conductivity of the ponds which were created for the release of great crested newts. The lost of two ponds were effectively replaced with 6 new ponds.

This area of Essex is heavily farmed and it is assumed that the nutrient load is very high. The results of the meter readings were very high from all the ponds 0.8 to 1.4 mS the middle pond was the ‘cleanest’ with a reading of 0.6mS.

In contrast my clean water garden pond is around 0.15mS and the tin streaming ponds in Cornwall were 0.08mS (see photos)

It just goes to show what a difference there is in the country with water quality. In Essex will it be possible to create clean water ponds?

It is interesting to note that the great crested newts numbered just over 2000 compared to the London Gateway project which created over 35 new ponds this number is massive. The London Gateway was reported to have moved around 400 great crested newts. Just goes to show how unimportant the great crested newt population was at the London Gateway.
The 41 ponds which were created on adjacent land has now riddled the Essex marshes with holes reminiscent of the german bombs jettisoned during the blitz in world war II.

There was a reported 100,000 smooth newts at the London Gateway yet they stayed in Essex unlike the poor reptiles which are now in Wiltshire.

clean water!

clean water!

pond 1

pond 1

pond 2

pond 2

pond 3

pond 3

one of the Cornish Ponds 12th March

one of the Cornish Ponds 12th March

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a second pond & latest on orchids

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

Well I have a 2nd pond in the garden I decided to make a pond in a half barrel. It has been filled with rainwater and has a sand substrate. Just deciding what to do with it perhaps planting up with aquatics perhaps.

This morning I took a photo of one of the orchids which is emerging in its pot. Very excited to have three orchids growing after losing the southern marsh orchid to the wife and over zealous mowing of the lawn.

I may place the orchids out around the pond this year. At least they will be protected by the pond from the mower!

these common spotted orchids have survived the winter

these common spotted orchids have survived the winter

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plants have set seed & sprouted

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2011 at 7:24 am

The pond is attracting quite a few different beetles. I think I have possibly 4 to 5 species using the pond.

Last night I noticed some seedlings at the edge of the pond. Will have to wait and see whether these plants survive to see what these plants are.

noticed some seedlings at the waters edge

noticed some seedlings at the waters edge

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In Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm

back in February I organised a training workshop for the ARC Trust and the Field Studies Council – I snapped these photos of a parakeet taking flight from a prospective nest hole in a tree limb



In Adders, ecosystems, mitigation, Observations, Wildlife on March 16, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I am going to have to reveal what I know about this reptile translocation scheme. The title is the hash tag I have used highlighting the concerns over this project and what it means for conserving reptiles in the UK.

I will be highlighting the concerns of herpetologists on the RAUK Forum and details of what EARG has managed to find out about the project. First I want to highlight people to the guidance which the consultants are claiming to follow:-

English Nature 2004 – Aims of a reptile mitigation strategy

Planning fordevelopment andmitigationPlanning must incorporate two aims where reptiles are present:

1  To protect reptiles from any harm that might arise during the development work;

2  To ensure that sufficient quality,quantity and connectivity of habitatis provided to accommodate thereptile population, either on-site orat an alternative site, with no net loss of local reptile conservation status.

The latest standing advice for planning departments by Natural England – published on the web

Chawton Park Woods – photos

In Adders, Observations, Wildlife on March 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Just a couple of photos while out looking for adders. Just taking shots of the inverts which were around this day.

I did manage to find a male adder. I have some more photos from the Cornwall trip – pied blackbird, toads, spawn – including albino frog spawn and those excellent tin streaming ponds….

How about a close up then?

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Andy @grumpy_toad – How about this photo? I went out and managed to find one of these beetles and got a close up shot of it

a closer shot of the beetle - Helophorus spp

How about this shot Andy?

Another beetle species in the pond

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm

The water levels are dropping in the pond and there is quite a bit of exposed sand, gravel and pond liner. Amongst the shallow water, mosses and dead leaves I noticed a small beetle under the water surface.

I hope that it is a new species for the pond – maybe I should

There is the little bugger!

send this rather poor photo to Jeremy Biggs for his opinion – I remember seeing a similar beetle colonising his garden pond – photographed on the garden pond blog.

A water beetle spotted in the evening of 16th March

A very small beetle under the water in the shallows of the garden pond

Well thanks to @grumpy_toad AKA Andy Harmer I may have an ID on this very small beetle Helophorus possibly H. grandis