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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Amphibian monitoring walk yesterday and new plant record for Cromwell Bottom

We did the annual walk around Cromwell Bottom with the amphibians in mind.
Six people turned up, four members of HSS, plus two friends, one from Robertown, the other from Leeds but a regular visitor to Sowerby Bridge. They found out about the walk through HSS publicity, one by word-of-mouth, and one on a Facebook page.

We saw a good amount of frogspawn this year, with about 40 clumps on Tag Loop, and a large raft on Brookfoot Loop, at the traditional site opposite the way in to Pixie Wood - about 100 clumps here.
We failed to find any toads - I have only seen 2 out so far this year at another busy site at Boulderclough.

A member of the public had alerted me to "about 20" newts in the path-side pond which is part of Tag Cut, just downstream of the iron-coloured spring. We saw a few, and one I netted was a Palmate.
I had taken it home the night before, so I had one ready to show people at the beginning of the walk. At home it ate 2 out of the three small frog tadpoles that were in with it. I had heard they did this; now I'm satisfied it is a fact.

These newts appeared in this pond in mid-March, which seemed early to me, but Matt Wilson of Littleborough blogged that they are one of the first amphibians to return to the ponds. Perhaps their strategy is to feed up on early frog tadpoles before breeding themselves.

I had a report of frogs having spawned in the wheel-wash where we look for newts at night in April, but we weren't able to get into the compound on this survey - I should have organised that.

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New Plant Record - Bilberry.
In Pixie Wood* there are some young Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillis plants which is surprising as the fly-ash is said to be slightly alkaline. They must be growing in a thin acidic layer of humous.
*A recent name given to part of Brookfoot Loop at Cromwell Bottom LNR, where mature birches grow with a large colony of Fly Agaric mushrooms which show well most Autumns.

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