Thursday, 20 April 2017

A newting we will go! Live update!

Newt season started for me on the 26th March with the first population assessment surveys. Survey methodology includes (in order) bottle trapping, torching, egg searches, netting and refuge searches. We have to use at least three methodologies per pond in the order given above, but there can be many reasons why we can't use a particular methodology. So for example, on an ideal night we will use bottles, torch, egg search. However if the temperature falls below 5'C, then we can't use bottles, so the next three methods are torch, egg search, netting. Trouble is we can't use the torch if it's too windy or the pond is too turbid so then we move to egg searches, netting and refuge searches. Egg searches though, are prohibitted once the presence of great creasted newts is confirmed in the pond. So we are never completely sure which methods we will use until we get there.

Biosecurity is very big these days, and we use all sorts of precautions to try to minimise the risk of spreading deseases, including one pair of wellies and one net per pond unless cleaned with 10% bleach between ponds and fam30 between land parcels on wellies and the wheels of the vehicles. There's much more to it than just sticking a bottle in the water!

On a typical night we'll survey 3 to 4 ponds, starting about 4 hours before sunset and finishing about 2 hours after dark, and then starting again the following morning shortly after sunrise. The whole thing is timed to make sure we miss evening meal and breakfast! Great stuff.....

This is what it's all about. A female great creasteed newt.

They have georgeous bellies!

Female smooth newt.

Female smooth newt.

20/04/2017 Update
A great night for newts last night, with five great crested and 16 smooth newts in a single pond, whilst this morning we found eight great crested newts in the bottle traps, including 3 males in one trap and three males and a female in another.

Smooth newts.

Great diving beetle.

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