Saturday, 14 November 2015

Vis Mig and Urban Drainage

It’s been another busy week in the land of Laura. On Sunday (08.11.15) I joined Visible Migration recorder Dr Clive McKay for a “vis mig” session at Lintrathen in Angus.  Looking across to the Barry Ridge, we started recording migrating Wood Pigeons (Columba palumbus) travelling North-East. Flocks with a couple of hundred birds were moving through. ”Umm have you seen this new flock…” I could barely utter the words as a flock with 1,000 birds travelled right across the horizon. What an amazing sight!

Dr Clive McKay counting migrating Wood Pigeons at Lintrathen (photo Laura Shearer)
After our vis mig we headed across to Montrose to join the Tayside ringing group for their annual social event. Unfortunately as we arrived so too did the rain however I was given the privilege of releasing the last bird of the day- a beautiful blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus). Once home Clive tallied up our vis mig totals. 14,080 Wood pigeons! A new record for the site! For more details of the count see:

Beautiful blue tit (photo Laura Shearer)
On Monday morning I attended the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) conference on Amphibians and Urban Drainage in Battleby, Perth. My MSc thesis was based around amphibians so it was great to catch up with like-minded people and discover more about current amphibian conservation projects.

The morning began with talks about Sustainable Drainage Schemes (SuDS) and how many SuDS ponds act as fantastic amphibian habitats. Afternoon presentations included the effects of road deicing salts on amphibians (Pete Minting, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) and on the use of amphibian ladders in gullypots (Raymond Creemers, Reptielen Amfibieën Vissen Onderzoek Nederland (RAVON) and Trevor Rose, Tayside Amphibian and Reptile Group).

Marcia Rae (Highland Council) talking about SuDS ponds as amphibian habitats (photo Laura Shearer)

Improve our drainage schemes for amphibians such as this Smooth Newt, Lissotriton vulgaris (photo Laura Shearer)
It was interesting to discover how small modifications to our drainage can help to improve the conservation of many of our native amphibians. For more information see the ARC website: or become involved in your local Amphibian and Reptile Group

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