1 June 2012

Please Help Froglife on Facebook

We are very excited to have been selected this month as one of Animal Friends Pet Insurance‘s charities in their Facebook competition.

The insurance company has set the ambitious target of donating £1 million to animal charities by the end of 2012. The £1 million challenge supports charities working to combat animal abuse and cruelty; assist protection of rare and endangered species; help conserve unique and vital habitats and educate local communities to protect their heritage. You can find out more at their website here
Help us help frogs by voting for us on Facebook with Animal Friends Pet Insurance
So, Froglife needs your support! Please go onto the Animal Friends Facebook page and vote for us. You need to sign up to the Feel Good Park voting app to do this, then click on us and submit your vote.  Click here to go to the Facebook page and vote now.

If we win the most votes this month we could be up for a £5000 donation! This would make a HUGE difference to us and our work, helping us to save more animals, protect their habitats and educate more people about amphibians and reptiles. If we come 2nd or 3rd we could benefit from £1500 to £2000 pounds, still a fantastic amount of money.

To qualify for any donation, we need to get at least 200 votes. With just over 900 Froglife followers on Facebook now, please help us through voting and tell your friends!  You can find Froglife's Facebook page here.

Thank you for your help.

30 May 2012

Great Crested Newts Losing Ground in London

Wildlife charity Froglife is calling for better management of urban ponds following results of our recently completed Great Crested Newts Revisted project. We surveyed 73 sites across 16 London Boroughs between 2010 and 2012 and the mixed findings highlight the importance of wildlife-friendly pond management.

A male Great Crested Newt
“Many of the ponds have not been managed for Great Crested Newts for more than 5-10 years. For some sites, as local communities and volunteer groups change, people have forgotten that these species ever used the site,” explains Sivi Sivanesan from Froglife. “It would be a shame to see this trend continue across London, and for us to slowly lose this wonderful and protected species from all but a few key sites.”

Great Crested Newts Revisited was enabled with £101,370.00 funding from SITA Trust to revisit sites known to have newts, pulling together fresh information, creating and restoring ponds for newts as well as training local volunteer groups for surveys and pond management. Froglife have shared the vital results with GiGL (Greenspace Information for Greater London) and Record Centres to facilitate planning and the protection of wildlife habitats.

Froglife has been improving ponds and terrestrial habitat for newts in London
The good news:
- Sites which contain more than one pond were the best for newts. Animals were found to have abandoned some ponds but were found in others, meaning an overall increase in the number of ponds occupied by newts across London. In each of the 16 Boroughs at least 1 site has been found to contain Great Crested Newts.
- The project has also left a legacy of improved habitat, with Froglife staff and volunteers improving ponds in 13 sites across the Capital.

The not so good news:
- At the site level the overall picture was more worrying. Of the 63 sites that had data to compare (comparison data from 1984-2008) there was an overall decrease in occupied sites by 6.3%

The causes of these losses were often clear - a combination of fish introductions and lack of management of the pond, including allowing a pond to become completely overgrown or shaded by trees. These factors had the biggest impact on sites which only contained one pond.

These findings reinforce the predictions from the London wide survey in the mid 1990’s by the London, Essex and Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Trust (LEHART) published in the London Naturalist (Atkins and Herbert, 1996).

“Looking after the City’s ponds is vital, not just for the future of this species in the London area but also for other amphibians, the brilliant pond invertebrates and other creatures that use our ponds,” concludes Sivi. “Let’s not “forget” this wonderful species into disappearing.”

- Great Crested Newts will be featured on BBC Springwatch on Thursday 7th June (although this date may be subject to change due to the live nature of the show)
- We are also asking people to share their garden sightings of the animals in our online Big Garden Newt Count survey here
Into art, craft or baking?  Why not enter our Great Crafted Newt competition to help us protect and celebrate these intriguing animals

28 May 2012

Froglife and Newts on Springwatch!

The newts on Hampton Nature Reserve have had some special guests. As well as all the volunteers and staff helping with the Big Newt Count 2012, Martin Hughes-Games and the Springwatch film crew popped along to film the animals.

A male Great Crested Newt gets ready for his screen debut
Froglifers Paul Furnborough and Silviu Petrovan showed the BBC team around the incredible lunar-landscape of the former brick pit, and introduced them to some of the Great Crested Newts for which the site is famous. Home to an estimated 30,000 Great Crested Newts at the last count, this is one of the largest known populations of the animals in Europe and they are counted every 5 years to monitor population size.
Watch out for Paul and his hat with presenter Martin looking for newts 
“The Big Newt Count involves going out on spring evenings with powerful torches to look in the ponds and spot the animals,” explains Paul. “The males do a dance with their tails, wafting pheromones towards the females and showing off their white tail flash in the water. This gives the surveyors a good chance of seeing the animals. We had loads of help from volunteers who worked really hard to get the survey finished ahead of schedule.”
Underwater filming
Froglife is also asking anyone who spots a Great Crested Newt in their pond to be part of the Big Garden Newt Count online survey. There are a few simple questions about the newts you have seen, the pond and your garden, with the opportunity to send some pictures of your sightings and your pond. All the data will be shared with record centres to help build a better picture of how newts fairing in our gardens.

Hampton Nature Reserve is just outside Peterborough, and you can find out more about this special site here
• The UK is home to three native species of newts, and ID tips to distinguish the Great Crested from the Smooth and Palmate species can be found on the Froglife website by clicking on the links
If you have spotted a newt in your garden, please take part in the Big Garden Newt Count here
• You can also join our Great Crafted Newt Competition on our website here!

Froglife manages Hampton Nature Reserve near Peterborough on behalf of O&H Hampton Ltd.

Photos: Silviu Petrovan