Earlier this year, an Environmental DNA sample – from one of the flood lagoons by the Bogburn in Bathgate- signalled the presence of the European protected Great Crested Newt (GCN). I will not pretend to understand the intricacies of Environmental DNA sampling, however, I am led to believe that animals leave things behind (e.g. mucus, faeces and hair) that contain their DNA and this can be detected in samples of soil or water.
A couple of months ago, our enthusiastic Bogburn volunteer group took to the banks of the flood lagoon in question to build some habitat piles that would benefit the Great Crested Newt (if present) and other amphibians that inhabit the area. This week, we returned with Jacquelyn from the Forth Rivers Trust – a licenced Great Crested Newt surveyor – to carry out an informal sweep net survey for Newt larvae and anything else we could have a look at.
While we didn’t detect any GCN, we did get a look at some common newts and a host of bugs – including water hoglouse, bloodworms, greater and lesser water boatman and midge larvae – and a few sticklebacks. I think our six volunteers were pleasantly surprised at the diversity uncovered from such a simple survey technique.