There's a lot of ol' rubbish to be cleared out this weekend. The skip is going be full of old tyres, brake disks, (yep), babies nappies (don't ask) , builder's debris, and sundry discarded waste that has accumulated over the years.
But there is also a secret world, hidden, for instance, under this pallet...
Take a peek.....
Did ya see 'em? Did ya?
Friends Committee member, Lucy, has taken on the role of our Biodiversity Monitor, and will be keeping a kindly eye on us to make sure that we don't upset the ecology of the environs.
Apologies for being distant this weekend, friends weddings always seem to come up at tricky times so I have been away all weekend and missed all the sensory garden developments!
I will be going down to the home tomorrow and very much looking forward to seeing what has changed.
As for the photo ID from above. These are indeed young newts! They are either smooth or palmate newts (very hard to split when so small) which are the most common species of newt in this country and a lot smaller than their more rare and protected Great Created newt counterparts.
I shall put a proper update on here later this week on some of the biodiversity plans for the garden and what current "residents" we are going to cater for
Went down to the home on Monday and it is certainly coming together. Here is a little summary of the biodiversity aspect of the sensory garden at the moment
Protecting what we have In terms of keeping an eye on the ecology of the site while the vegetation clearance works was carried out I went through and checked all the scrub and trees just before everything was chopped down to make sure there weren’t any birds with nests trying to raise their young. Pleased to say that there weren’t any breeding birds to disturb which meant we would carry on with the clearance of the tree area. The trees to be cleared were all very young willow and alder which didn’t provide any suitable features for bat roosts so this also wasn’t an issue. The rest of the scrub area that was going to be cleared is very good habitat for reptiles and amphibians so this area was cleared in a 2 stage clearance – Strimmed to 30cm to disturb but not injure any reptiles or amphibians present and to encourage them into the area that wasn’t being cleared. The following day it was strimmed to ground level starting at the stable block end and working away from the area. Doing the clearance this way meant that any reptile and amphibian injuries were avoided as much as possible.
Encouraging Wildlife into the area and monitoring what is there So what are we going to do to try and encourage our native likely residents into the area?
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This is a great start and I will hopefully try and do some bat surveys in the area (weather and time permitting!) which will involve leaving some recording equipment out which will pick up and record any bat activity in the area.
Reptiles, Amphibians & Small Mammals One of the Cardiff Dogs Home staff has been way ahead of Friends and the sensory garden plans and left out an old pallet out in the scrub which has bedding in really nicely. When you lift it up can find a wealth of amphibian activity chilling out. I took a picture on Monday, how many can you see?
This is a great way of monitoring what you have in the local area so I have set out five other black corrugated matts which are great for looking for reptiles. As reptiles are cold blooded they need to heat up in the mornings and late afternoons and these mats are perfect for them to do this on as they warm up very nicely. They are also nice places for small mammals to nest under so we may well come across some of these also.
So that is how we have started, hopefully we can put up a couple of bird boxes also but we are at such early stages one step at a time
One of the things we haven't seen yet but it is hopefully likely that we will come across is grass snakes!
Now don't all gasp!
They are wonderful creatures, very shy and retiring and will most of the time try and keep out of peoples (& Dogs!) way.
Grass snakes are one of the UK's three snake species. The others are Adders of which I'm sure everyone has heard of and then the less common Smooth snake which is far more rare. Slow worms are also not to be confused with snakes, they are in fact legless lizards.
One of the reasons we might well come across grass snakes is that one of their main prey item is amphibians of which we have seen many around CDH.
I took this picture earlier this year of a grass snake I came across swimming along a ditch. It's not something people may realise they do but I thought I would share the photo so you believe me
It really would be great if we could get Biodiversity Corner on some notice boards at the home too.........maybe on the side of the stable block so that visitors to the home could see who the other residents of the garden are!
As some of you know I am an ecologist by trade. For the last two days I have been at a conference in Cardiff held by my professional body (IEEM) on Renewable energy and biodiversity impacts.
There was a great talk today which I thought I would share on here as it combined 3 quite strong aspects of my life: Working as an ecologist, bats and dogs!
I am a volunteer rescue bat carer which means I get calls from the public should anyone find a bat in trouble (which is generally the only time you will come into contact with them!). I'm also a consultant ecologist for an engineering firm so do a lot of ecological surveys for developments. And finally I do lots around the dogs home as I just can't have a dog of my own at the moment due to all the travelling I do.
The talk today was about a research project that is going on looking at the potential negative affect on bats with wind farm developments and looking into whether there is a high collision mortality with bats. The project involves searching the areas around wind farms for any casualties or dead bats.
Which means you are looking for something like this:
In a situation like this:
Obviously a tricky situation. So the research at Exeter uni has turned to using these:
Specially trained ex police dogs! What an awesome job. Conservation dogs are being used more and more these days, there are some dogs even trained to sniff out bee nests for bee studies
I love it, a great solution to a tough survey. It is linked into the bat care work that I do as any bats that don't make it for whatever reason can be sent to the study and used to train the dogs to find dead bats.
Anyway, I hope I haven't bored you too much I just thought it was a great example of working dogs contributing in ecology and renewable energy projects
I've taken all these pics from the PDF below if anyone is interested.
Well at the moment they are just trying to research if in fact there are many bat casualties or not because no one really knows. I think the initial findings are that there aren't that many but it depends where you site the wind farms, what type and size are put in etc. You're right they do ecolocate so generally avoid but depends how quick and in what direction turbine is moving.