Exciting things are coming to the wetlands at RSPB Loch Lomond. In this blog, Mirran Trimble from Froglife tells us more. 

As of July 19, works are officially underway to create an exciting new wetland habitat at RSPB Loch Lomond! The project will transform a large, lacklustre field into a thriving ecosystem by creating a network of interconnected ponds. The resulting wetland network will support a whole host of birds, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates, as well as providing an important source of water for other wildlife.

 

This project is a collaboration between RSPB Scotland and Froglife’s Come Forth for Wildlife project. Froglife is a wildlife charity dedicated to protecting amphibians, reptiles and the habitats they depend upon, and by combining our knowledge and expertise across the two charities, we are working together to make a difference for birds and amphibians alike. Come Forth for Wildlife is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and we are working to create and restore habitats across the Forth Valley, while delivering a range of exciting engagement activities to local communities. See more on the project here: Come Forth for Wildlife (froglife.org)

 

A fence at the edge of a field with a "National Heritage Fund" banner

Day 1 of works at Loch Lomond – a beautiful sunny day to start creating our new wetland habitat!

 

This project will have huge benefits for local amphibian populations, including frogs, toads and newts. Amphibians rely on ponds for breeding, with some species such as newts also using them for courtship displays. This project will create four ponds of different shapes and sizes in order to cater to the needs of different species. The deeper pools in particular will be well-suited to some of the at-risk native species, including common toad which have suffered a 68% population decline over a 30-year period in the UK and the very rare great crested newt, a European protected species which is highly vulnerable to habitat loss.

 

A great crested newt swims underwater. It is black with orange speckles and a frilly crest all down its back

Great crested newt – a rare amphibian species which is likely to benefit from the new wetland habitat. Photo © Dave Kilbey

 

The benefits of this wetland for amphibians aren’t limited to the breeding season either, as the deeper pools will also be important for some amphibians during the cold winter months. Male common frogs in particular will often spend the winter months dormant in mud at the bottom of ponds, which can be dangerous in shallow pools that freeze over. Two of the new ponds will have a maximum depth of at least 1 metre; this means they are far less likely to freeze completely during the coldest winter months, making it safe overwintering habitat for common frogs!

 

A common frog poking its head out of the water

Common frog – the deeper pools will provide suitable overwintering habitat for male common frogs in the winter. Photo © Greg Hitchcock

 

After our long period of planning, we are so excited to see this project finally getting underway! The resulting ponds will be instrumental in tackling the threats of habitat loss and habitat fragmentation that native amphibians are facing across the UK. We will also return to the site after one, three, five and ten years to monitor their progress, see which species have made them their home and make any necessary improvements to ensure the longevity of the new wetland network. We are very excited to be a part of this project and cannot wait to see this field transformed into a beautiful, thriving hotspot for wildlife!

Find out more about the project here!

Anonymous