I really love your tiger feet!
By Ryan Greaves
Communities and Wildlife Leader
All newts photographed and handled under license
We had a wonderful session with my monthly ‘Wildlife Watch’ children’s group at Woods Mill nature reserve last weekend. Around four years ago a historic meadow pond was re-excavated, and last year we did a torch survey which revealed it had been colonised. So licensed newt surveyor and Reserves Ecologist, Glenn Norris and I set a small number of bottle traps and a dewsbury trap overnight to see if they are still present. Excitingly we caught one female and five male Great Crested Newts (with their tiger stripe toes), two male Smooth Newts and a male Palmate Newt.
Safe to say I was rather excited, and the children were even more so! I heard so many “ooohs”, “aaaahs” and “whoooos” as they swam around like the mini Godzillas they are! I got the children to each release a newt by hand back to the pond, then we built a hibernacula site nearby for the newts to use in the Winter.
I find newts to be such charismatic creatures. So beautiful, so streamlined and so regal! Sadly they get a bad rap with some due to their legal protection. Numbers have declined massively over the last 60 years, due to habitat fragmentation, agricultural intensification, water pollution, blocking of migration routes and infilling of ponds. Thankfully we can help them out by digging new ponds, such as my garden pond, which has a thriving population of all three species. Watching them do their fabulous mating displays each evening is an absolute joy.