Introduction. Assynt has three resident terrestrial reptiles, common lizard, slow-worm and adder, and three very occasional marine visitors, green, loggerhead and leatherback turtles.
Common Lizard by David Haines
The common lizard is the most widespread of our resident reptiles, and may often go unreported. Adults are most often seen sunning themselves on rocks or in low vegetation, but can disappear in a flash. To the practised observer, a rapidly-moving wriggle in the right situation, seen out of the corner of the eye, is probably good enough for a record, but a proper view is better.
Adult common lizards are about six inches (15cm) long, and brown above, with longitudinal rows of dark and light markings. Males and females differ in colour, particularly on the underside; males have bright yellow or orange bellies, usually dark-spotted; females have paler yellow, blue or grey bellies, with few spots. These characters are easy
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Frogs in mating frenzy
1. Les Pearce has posted on iSpot a photograph of toads on the move at Badnaban (NC0720) on Tuesday 22nd February. That evening Pat and I noticed a number of small corpses on the road just west of Loch an Ordain (NC0923); they were all toads, males I suspect, from their size and the fact that they are usually the first back to the breeding sites. Although we kept our eyes open, we did not see any other casualties adjacent to regular breeding sites such as Loch Drumbeg and Loch Ruighean an Aitinn.
2. Toads are sometimes a little earlier on the move than frogs in this area. However, alerted by these observations, I went on 23rd to an old tank at Drumbeg (NC1232), which often has early frog spawn, and so it did, three clumps. However, Teresa Weinburg, at Torfeddi, about 100m away,
Continue reading Amphibians: Movements and spawning dates by Ian Evans
1. Introduction. Assynt boasts some 680 lochs and lochans (as shown on the 1:50,000 O.S. map), and many more smaller bodies of water. There is therefore no lack of suitable breeding habitat for amphibians. Three species are known to occur, and there are intriguing, if ancient, reports of a fourth.
2. The common frog is the commonest amphibian in Assynt, occurring in a wide variety of habitats from the coast to high in the hills. The total population of adults is probably in excess of 100,000. Adults vary in colour through shades of olive green, yellow, brown and red, often well-marked with black.
Spawning takes place from early March, the earliest often about 6th, in water bodies varying in size from temporary pools on tracksides and in peat cuttings, artificial tanks, to the shallows and backwaters of burns and lochans. Spawning sites range in altitude from just
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Males: speckled back and orange belly also penial bulge below easy (not easy)
Females: creamy belly dots on back arranged in a dark line
Juveniles are almost black (about 4cm) soon become bronze