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NEWS RELEASE No: 506019 JULY 2002


GLOWING SUCCESS FOR RARE WOODLAND CREATURES


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Nature lovers in Scotland's first National Park are celebrating the first sightings this century of some of the country's rarest and most unusual creatures.

A colony of glow worms has been discovered in a woodland location in the new Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, the first recorded Scottish sighting of the fascinating phosphorescent beetles in several years.

And in a double triumph for wildlife enthusiasts, within hours of the find the rare and elusive nightjar was also confirmed as being present in the area.

The twin discoveries have been hailed a major milestone in the drive to boost and enrich the variety of Scotland's plants, insects, animals and birds.

"The fact rare species like this are being sighted in the National Park shows what an important area it is for all kinds of wildlife. The ongoing woodland management and habitat improvement work being carried out by the Forestry Commission should safeguard their presence here for years to come ," said Stirling biodiversity officer Jonathan Willet, who discovered the glow worms during a nighttime search in the forest.

"Glow worms are incredible creatures and finding them for the first time in the Aberfoyle area was an extremely exciting and rewarding moment."

Jonathan's discovery was prompted by local forest district manager Hugh Clayden who spotted what he thought were glow worms while out searching for nightjars.

"The Forestry Commission asked me to see if I could verify the presence of glow worms in the area," Jonathan said. "I knew their peak activity time was between 10pm and midnight during the months of June and July, went out to search and there they were!"

Within hours of the exciting discovery foresters were celebrating yet again when the first nightjar sighting in eight years was confirmed. Hugh Clayden, explained: "Following up Jonathan's confirmation of the glow worms we decided to include that general area in our search for the elusive nightjar.

"Shortly before midnight a small group of us, including Jonathan, were fortunate enough to see and hear this remarkable visitor from Africa. Even more rewarding was that the bird was found on one of our recently clearfelled coniferous areas, this confirming findings elsewhere that about half the British population is found in such habitats.

"If people see nightjars, or more realistically hear their characteristic churring during summer evenings, we would appreciate hearing from them."

Now a national campaign has been launched to encourage people to look out for and log sightings of glow worms in Scotland.

"We know quite a fair bit about glow worm behaviour," said Jonathan. "One interesting fact is that the males turn the females off! Once mated the females stop glowing.

"However noone really knows very much about Scotland's population of glow worms and where they are. There are simply too few records and researchers are still in the dark over the factors affecting their distribution.

"Female glow-worms are easy to recognise at night. They are out there, so if you are out and about why not look out for their yellowish green glow?"

"It is crucial we determine which habitats suit the glow worms best, so we can tailor the way we manage the woods to give these appealing insects the best possible chance of survival," Hugh added.

"Modern forestry is as much about conservation and improving habitats as it is about timber production and recreation. Nightjars seem to have benefitted from the cyclical nature of commercial forestry. The increasing number of animals at the top of the food chain, like the pine marten and the goshawk, indicates the biodiversity value, or variety of life, in our multi-purpose forests is high and increasing year on year."

Sightings of glow woms should be logged on the UK Glow Worm Survey website at www.glowworms.org.uk

Notes to editors:

1) For further information or interviews contact: Mike Steward, Aberfoyle Forest District on 01877 382383 mike.steward@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

2) A picture of a glow worm is available at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-5c6cue This picture is copyright John Tyler and its use is permitted in conjunction with this press release only.

3) In 1992 there were only about 3100 churring nightjar males in the UK of which just 41 were found in Scotland. Eighty percent of these were in Dumfries and Galloway.

Forestry Commission Press Office: 0131 314 6508/6289

e-mail: catriona.ross@forestry.gsi.gov.uk