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Natterjacks thriving thanks to partnership working

Published: 11/12/2017

Flintshire Countryside Service recently teamed up Network Rail to carry out some important environmental work. A team of around 15 volunteers from Network Rail and their principal contractor on the North Wales Coast Re-Signalling Scheme, Siemens, spent the day with Countryside Rangers clearing gorse and raking the natterjack toad area in Bettisfield, Bagillt. The team were working to clear the area where natterjack toads have been re-introduced to help increase their foraging habitat. They need an area covered with short grass because they hunt by chasing invertebrates rather than hopping or jumping like other toads or frogs. Removing the gorse also reduces the habitat for the common toad, a direct competitor of the natterjack toad – the rarest amphibian in Wales. The natterjack toad was extinct in Wales until the Herpetological Conservation Trust introduced thousands of natterjack tadpoles to parts of the Gronant and Talacre dunes in 1996. This re-introduction programme at Bettisfield is in its third year. The only other populations of natterjack toads in Wales are found in Talacre and Gronant which means this re-introduction is an important step in developing the population in Wales. Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Countryside, Councillor Carolyn Thomas, said: Partnership working between volunteers, local businesses and the County Council is an invaluable way to maintain our environment. Huge thanks to the Freshwater Habitat Trust which has just given £2,000 to improve one of the two ponds or “scrapes” on the site and Network Rail who has also pledged £3,700 to create a third scrape in January. Flintshire County Council’s Coastal Ranger, Tim Johnson, said: “We had a fantastic day which was a real success. I have to thank the Freshwater Habitats Trust and Network rail for their investments into the species and the site. I’d also like to thank the team who came out on Wednesday. They all worked really hard and made such a difference. This area has never looked better.” Network Rail’s Ecologist for IP Signalling (South), Caitlin McCann said: “It’s fantastic when so many groups, with varying priorities, can come together to work towards a common goal, in this instance, biodiversity enhancements for the natterjack toad at Bagillt. The team of volunteers were keen to make a difference as many of them work locally on Network Rail’s North Wales Coast Re-Signalling Scheme and have developed an appreciation for the environment and the biodiversity on and adjacent to the railway. Tim and his volunteers were so informative about the species and the ongoing biodiversity initiatives at Bagillt and other areas along the coast line. Everyone left feeling a great sense of achievement!” Network Rail volunteers with Tim Johnson and FCC volunteer Jim Craven