Wildlife SurveysA variety of survey and monitoring work is carried out by the rangers, and volunteers can also get involved. For example, you can help with regular Eider duck counts in North Berwick, grassland plant monitoring and Bumblebee surveys at a number of sites or looking for signs of Otters and Water Voles along some of our water courses. There are sometimes opportunities to help with (or take on) regular butterfly transects and bird counts and each site has its own suite of plant and animal species that are monitored regularly, often as part of the monthly volunteer work day programme. If you have skills in a particular area of wildlife surveying or you are keen to develop some, then do get in touch. The more we know about the wildlife in our area the better informed conservation and management decisions can be.
Eider Monitoring (at North Berwick)
Between April and July each year, a project to monitor breeding eider duck populations takes place in North Berwick. The project started in 2007 in response to a Scottish Natural Heritage report about decreasing populations of some ground nesting bird species along the East Lothian coastline including eiders. The project also monitors possible factors causing decline including human disturbance, weather and nesting habitat.
New volunteers to help with the surveys are always welcome – no experience or bird knowledge is required and training and support is provided. To get involved or find out more, contact Countryside Ranger Samantha Ranscombe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01620 827842.
From sometime in March (depending on the weather!) until the end of September teams of volunteers count bumblebees at North Berwick Law, Traprain Law, Barns Ness and Aberlady Bay. This involves heading out about once every two weeks to walk a set route (transect) and counting the bees that you see. The survey is part of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's Beewalk scheme and so contributes to knowledge of bumblebee populations across the UK. The data also help to monitor the effect that pony and sheep grazing might be having on some of our sites.
New volunteers to help with the surveys are always welcome – no experience or bee knowledge is required and training and support is provided. To get involved or find out more, contact Duncan Priddle by emailing email@example.com.
In June and July teams of volunteers undertake a plant survey of grassland habitats at North Berwick Law, Traprain Law, Barns Ness and Aberlady Bay. Each site has a number of fixed recording locations at which ten quadrats are thrown and the presence and frequency of various 'indicator' plant species recorded. This is a long-term monitoring project designed to investigate the effect that pony and sheep grazing are having on the diversity of plant species in some of our grassland habitats.
New volunteers to help with the surveys are welcome – a little bit of plant knowledge is helpful, but all necessary training can be provided. To get involved or find out more, contact Stuart MacPherson by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otter and Water Vole Surveys
A group of volunteers have recently started surveying East Lothian's waterways for signs of Otter and Water Vole. Otters seem to be on the increase in East Lothian and we are hoping to find out more about where they live and roam. Water Voles are present here, but very little is known about them.
New volunteers are very welcome. Training is provided and the surveying times are flexible. To find out more, email Thomas.
Many more wildlife surveys happen at various sites, both as part of the regular volunteer work days or as extra sessions.
There is a group of volunteers known to themselves as "Plant Hunters". The aim of this group is to target under-recorded areas of East Lothian to find out what plants are growing where. This information feeds into national plant databases to give a better idea of the distribution of plants across the UK and can also help to inform conservation priorities on a local scale. The Plant Hunters are organised by Stuart who provides necessary training and support. As volunteers become more confident in their botanical capabilities it is intended that they will start to become independent and we will end up with capable plant recorders everywhere!
Examining the contents of a light trap that has been left overnight to attract moths is a great wildlife experience! It may mean an early start, but as long as the overnight weather was suitable (never guaranteed in Scotland!) a wonderful variety of moth species will be awaiting discovery. Moth trapping happens fairly regularly in Aberlady, and there are a few keen moth-ers who also take their traps to various corners of East Lothian. If this is something you'd like to be involved with get in touch.
Newts in Drains:
This is a new project taking place in North Berwick. We are interested to see if road drains are causing problems for newts, frogs and toads as they move from hibernation sites to breeding ponds in the Spring. In other parts of the country mortality of amphibians has been recorded when they fall into drains and can't escape. Where this is a problem, help is at hand in the form of small ladders or ramps that can be put into the drains to provide a safe exit route for the trapped animals (yes, really!). There is a small colony of Great Crested Newts in a garden pond in North Berwick. These are a protected species so we are starting the project by looking at the road drains in the vicinity of this pond. If we discover drowning amphibians (or small mammals) then these little ladders will be installed.