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Up close with Cairngorms’ reptiles and amphibians

5th April 2007

FORGET Spring Chicks, the only animals of interest in the Cairngorms National Park this Easter will be amphibians and reptiles thanks to free courses being run on their identification.

The public is being encouraged to get out into the Cairngorms this Spring and help to record the numbers and types of amphibians and reptiles that live in the area.

The Cairngorms Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP), a partner project with the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and others, and the Herpetological Conservation Trust (HCT) are running National Amphibian and National Reptile Survey courses this month. They will help people to become experts on the species and teach them about amphibian and reptile identification, habitats and surveys.

It is hoped the courses will not only raise awareness of the species, but also help to record their movements and patterns and to detect any affects of climate change. They will also link in with work being done around Britain to increase the recording and monitoring of amphibian and reptile populations.

World-wide the number of amphibians is on the decline and they are the fastest declining species group due to disease and habitat loss. But at present the situation in the Cairngorms is unknown. By training the public and getting them involved it is hoped they will be able to collate this information.

Stephen Corcoran, the Cairngorms LBAP Officer and who organised the courses, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the public to get up close to some of the Cairngorms most interesting species.

“The public will get a chance not only to witness them in their natural habitat, but also to learn about them and to help with their survival.

“It is very important that we start to record information about amphibians and reptiles if we want to understand how they are being affected by climate change, disease or habitat loss. It will also tie into the national picture.”

The courses will be lead by Dr Chris Gleed-Owen from the HCT and they will include classroom and field sessions. There is also the possibility of an evening field trip.

For those unable to attend the courses, but are interested in learning more about the species and recording them there are leaflets available from the Cairngorms LBAP  which details the various types of amphibians in the area and materials for recording them.

It is hoped both the courses and the leaflet will lead to the formation of a Cairngorms local amphibian recording group, which will assist in leading the work being done in the area.

The courses take place on Sunday April 15th and Saturday April 28th. The day starts at 10am until 9.30pm. Participants must bring their own footwear, wellies and waterproofs, as well as lunch and dinner.

For more information on the courses, to book a place or for an Amphibians of the Cairngorms leaflet please contact Stephen Corcoran, LBAP Officer, on 01479 870 528 or [email protected]