Thursday, 16 June 2016

eDNA surveying

I was eDNA surveying for great crested newts this morning at the site of a proposed new development on the Welsh borders. It's a technique of collecting water samples from ponds which are then sent away to a lab and analysed for newt DNA to check for GCN presence in the pond. I like the scientific aspect of this work and it avoids the need to wade around in ponds at dawn and dusk putting bottle traps in or taking them out, but you're generally not going to see a newt during an eDNA survey. As a natrualist I like finding newts and other aquatic animals in bottles and I enjoy searching for newt eggs or seeing the animals by torch light etc. From a purely personal perspective, eDNA is good if you have a pond where you're unlikely to find newts or it's in a dodgey area where you might meet a few unsavoury characters at night, but if you have a pond in a nice location where there might actually be newts, give me the bottle trapping method any day!

Presumably this is the sort of "red tape" that the EU brexit campaign would do away with if we leave the EU. Why worry about wildlife if it gets in the way of making a fast buck?

I've been in the area all week doing different types of survey, breeding bird, phase 1 and eDNA. Grasshopper warbler and a couple of singing lesser whitethroats have been the bird highlights, and plants have included a nice selection of orchids.

Bee orchid.

Pyramidal orchid.

Common spotted orchid.

Southern marsh orchid.

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