Hundreds of thousands of amphibians helped to cross


This video from Massachusetts in the USA says about itself:

Berkshire Amphibian Migration — via Berkshire Oudoors

14 March 2012

Video copyright: Berkshire Outdoors.

Join Rene Wendell, resident naturalist at The Trustees of ReservationsBartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield, MA, as he takes a group of volunteers into a misty March (2011) night to help migrating amphibians cross a busy road. We encounter: spotted salamanders, spring peepers, wood frogs, four toe salamanders, red backed salamanders, and an American toad.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON herpetologists:

The Netherlands helps over sixteen kilometers of amphibians to cross roads

Post published by RAVON Foundation on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

A traffic jam from Almere to Amsterdam; so long would the procession of toads, frogs and salamanders be, if all animals helped by volunteers to cross roads in the spring of 2014 would be put behind one another. The toad working groups during the months of March and April are estimated to have helped a total of more than 230,000 amphibians across the roads. These are about 50,000 more than last year but still not as many as in the boom years 2008, 2010 and 2011, when more than 300,000 amphibians were transferred.

The complete spring 2014 report is here.

Early frogspawn in Cornwall already


This video from England is called Common Frogs in the Garden.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Frogs breeding in November due to mild weather

Frogspawn spotted in Cornwall, months before the usual spring spawning time, is earliest sighting in almost a decade

Mild autumn weather has led to frogs breeding five months early, with frogspawn sighted in Cornwall this week. It is the earliest frogspawn recorded in nearly a decade.

The Woodland Trust was alerted to the frogspawn by a National Trust ranger, who had spotted the common frog’s spawn at the North Predannack Downs nature reserve on the Lizard Peninsula.

“This year I first saw frog spawn on 21 November, which is early, but not unheard of in a Cornish context,” said Rachel Holder, the ranger who first spotted the frogspawn. “The gamble of getting ahead in the breeding game must be worth taking, and the risk of a severe cold snap which could freeze the spawn is worth braving,” she said.

Frogspawn [is] usually seen in March across the UK, with the earliest occurrence in recent history being on 26 October, in 2005.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, project manager for Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar , said: “Although spring is generally arriving earlier, to receive a frogspawn sighting before winter has properly begun is highly unusual.

“Given the reasonably mild weather we have been enjoying recently, it is possible for frogs to be fooled into spawning early, but sadly it is unlikely the spawn will now survive the frosts we are experiencing,” she said.

November has been mild and very wet so far, according to the Met Office, with average temperatures nearly 2C above the long-term average, and 93.1mm of rainfall.

Frogspawn, which has the appearance of a thick translucent jelly with dark specks, often contains 5,000 eggs and is laid at one time. Tadpoles begin to emerge after a month, although early spawn is vulnerable to freezing during the winter months while it floats on the top of the pond. As frogs mate once per season, their breeding effort for the year may be wasted if spawn is laid when the conditions are not right.

Chris Hickman, from the Woodland Trust, told the Guardian that the early UK sightings of frogspawn, “highlights the wider issue that frogs are looking at spawning early, or having to adapt, because climate change is changing the natural environment in England.”

He added, “it’s not something that we’ve had for a long time and we have to establish whether this will be a one off, or maybe there are other frogspawn sightings out there that perhaps people haven’t yet reported.”

Matthew Oates, a naturalist at the National Trust, said he had noticed how climatic changes have affected the seasonal behaviour of species, such as the purple emperor caterpillar not hibernating, and this autumn he has heard the evening chorus of song-thrush and robins singing. The naturalist said that he expects hazel catkins, which traditionally appear mid-January, to bloom before Christmas.

There have been early first sightings of other species in recent years. According to the Woodland Trust, snowdrops which are traditionally out in spring have been sighted early in November and December since 2001. Ladybirds, which historically hibernate during the winter months, were spotted in December every year between 2002 and 2008 and also in 2011.

Improving camera traps for reptiles


This video is about reptiles (and at least one amphibian), filmed by a camera trap at a wildlife corridor in the Netherlands.

The Dutch herpetologists of RAVON write today about reptiles using wildlife corridors. Until recently, they were often not detected, or the image quality was so bad that people could not know which species had been filmed.

In 2014, an experiment started in the Fochteloërveen nature reserve to improve camera traps especially for reptiles. This worked. From May-September this year 97 reptiles using two corridors were recorded (27 adders, 56 grass snakes, five smooth snakes, nine common lizards). There were also many mammals, like stoats, pine martens and hedgehogs.

RAVON plans to improve the system further in 2015; maybe making it possible to even recognize individuals.

Little owl and Thekla lark in Spain


Little owl, 3 November 2014

This little owl was photographed in Spain, on a hillock in a plain, south of the Pyrenees.

After 2 November, 3 November 2014 in Aragon.

To Monegros plain.

A green sandpiper on a lakelet bank.

Foggy weather. There has been drought for a long time. As we walk, many millipedes on the dry soil.

Also, many young natterjack toads. Still very small, less than one centimeter.

Many larks flying and singing. Most of them are calandra larks. Also some, smaller, lesser short-toed larks.

We had hoped to see sandgrouse here, but we don’t see them.

We do see the little owl, pictured at the top of this blog post.

A meadow pipit drinking at one of few puddles.

Then, sandgrouse at last: three black-bellied sandgrouse.

This video is about black-bellied sandgrouse (and chukar partridges)  in Israel. We could not see these three ones in Spain as well, as they flew overhead fast.

A crested lark on a field.

A bit further, eight red-legged partridges.

A male merlin on a wall. A hoopoe on a rock.

Six black-bellied sandgrouse on a field.

A flock of choughs.

Thekla lark, 3 November 2014

A bit further back along the same road, a Thekla lark. Sometimes, it sings.

Thekla lark, Aragon, 3 November 2014

We go back to the lakelet. A snipe.

Butterfly, Spain, 3 November 2014

Though it is already November, still butterflies. Like this one.

We climb a hillock. At first, we see hardly any birds. A bit later, we can see scores of pin-tailed sandgrouse.

After a long time of exerting our eyes and binoculars near a village, we finally manage to see a well-camouflaged stone curlew on a field near a village. The scores of cattle egrets on a building there are easier to spot.

Little grebe, Spain, 3 November 2014

Finally, a hide near a lake. A little grebe.

Teal male, 3 November 2014

A teal.

Water pipit, 3 November 2014

A water pipit.

Marsh harriers, 3 November 2014

Two marsh harriers, flying to the reedbeds for sleeping.

New Brazilian frog named after Ozzy Osbourne


This video is called Wild Amazon Part 1.

From National Geographic:

New “Bat Frog” Found in Amazon, Named for Ozzy Osbourne

Dendropsophus ozzyi males make high-pitched, batlike calls

Carrie Arnold

November 8, 2014

Holy Batfrog! Scientists have discovered a new tree frog species with a shrill, batlike call in the Brazilian Amazon.

“As soon as I heard its call, I knew it was a new species. I had never heard anything like it,” said Pedro Peloso, one of the frog’s discoverers and a postdoctoral fellow at Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Brazil.

Peloso and colleagues found the 0.75-inch (19.4-millimeter) amphibian in 2009 as part of a biodiversity survey of Floresta Nacional de Pau-Rosa, a protected area in the state of Amazonas (map).

During the month-long expedition, the team found 21 specimens of the brown-and-orange creature, which has mysteriously long, delicate fingers and toes. (Read about tree frogs in National Geographic magazine.)

The male frogs also have an unusually large vocal sac, a nearly transparent piece of skin that inflates to produce its unique high-pitched chirping sound. Male tree frogs in general make loud calls to communicate with females in distant treetops, but the new species is the first known to sound like a bat.

Once the team had brought their treasure back to the lab, “we kept talking about the ‘bat frog,’ which led to us talking about being fans of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath,” Peloso said.

At a concert in 1981, Osbourne bit the head off a bat that a fan threw on the stage, although Osbourne later said he believed it was rubber. Peloso named his bat frog Dendropsophus ozzyi, and it’s described November 6 in the journal Zootaxa.

New frog species discovery in New York City


This video from the USA says about itself:

30 October 2014

Male Rana Kauffeldi Emits Its Primary Call In New York City

A male Rana kauffeldi emits its primary call in the foreground with several other competing males calling in background.

New species of frog discovered in New York’s urban jungle after scientists notice ‘very odd’ chorus call

A new species of Frog has been discovered thriving in New York – after scientists were drawn to the creatures’ ‘very odd’ chorus call.

The Atlantic Coast leopard frog as it has been named was first noticed hopping around wetlands in the shadow of the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Jeremy Feinberg, a scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, was intrigued by the animals’ unusual chorus call.

The frog looks identical to other leopard frogs but Mr Feinberg felt certain it’s distinctive ‘chuck’ call was like nothing he had heard before.

So he teamed up with genetics experts and tests proved him right – the frog was indeed an entirely new species.

The new frog has been given the Latin name Rana kauffeldi in honour of New York wildlife expert Carl Kauffeld who first suggested there may be an unidentified species of frog in the area in 1937.

Sadly Mr Kauffeld, who died in 1974 aged 63, had never been able to prove his theory as genetic testing technology was not available at the time.

Mr Feinberg told BBC News: ‘Frogs have very stereotyped calls within a species, so I knew this was different.

‘But it took me two years to find someone to partner with me on the genetics side.

‘This is only the third new species of frog to be discovered north of Mexico since 1986.

“What also makes this crazy is that it’s in a urban area – [that’s] what makes it a double whammy.

“You wouldn’t find it hopping around Times Square”.

‘[These frogs] probably require wetland areas of something on the average minimum of 10 acres or more.

The frog has since been found to inhabit a coastal strech from Connecticut in the north to Virginia and North Carolina in the south.

A large colony was discovered thriving on Staten Island.

From Wildlife Extra:

New frog species found in the urban jungle of New York City

When thinking about where a new frog species might be discovered, the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea, the humid jungles of Central Africa or other equally remote and tropical destinations instantly come to mind. But surprisingly, the latest new frog species to have been discovered has been found in the urban jungle of New York City and surrounding coastal areas.

The new species of leopard frog, Rana kauffeldi, was first identified in the New York City metropolitan area, but its range extends to the north and south, following a narrow and predominantly coastal lowland area from central Connecticut to northeast North Carolina.

Jeremy Feinburg and colleagues from Rutgers University undertook the research to identify the amphibian, analysing acoustic and genetic data. “The discovery of a new frog species from the urban Northeast is truly remarkable and completes a journey that began six years ago with a simple frog call in the wilds of New York City,” says Feinburg. “This story underscores the synergy that traditional field methods and modern molecular and bioacoustic techniques can have when used together; one is really lost without the other, but together are very powerful tools.”

You can read the full paper here.

Read about other new species discoveries here.