Pondlife Survey
 
Last year, while erecting a security fence, we gained access to an area of our site that had been allowed to become overgrown over a couple of decades. It was covered in brambles and years of accumulated rubbish but has the potential to make a valuable wildlife area, primarily because of a natural pond that has formed. 
                

 
Because there are colonies of great crested newts in nearby ponds, we realised that we had to be sensitive when preparing the site.  The first step was to establish exactly what wildlife we had in our pond. Nicky Butler, a member of NEARG who recently gained her licence to deal with this endangered species, volunteered to help us with our project.
 
On Friday 8th April, she led the first of a series of surveys that must be undertaken. She was joined by Julia Brown, Hannah Woodhouse, Patsy Ryan and allotment association members Paul Richmond, Ivy Law and Nancy Oakley. The survey began at 7.30pm by observing the habitat in daylight before moving on to do a torchlight search and set bottle traps (NOTE: bottle traps must only be set by a licenced expert like Nicky).
 
By 11pm, 18 newts had been found but they were the more common palmates and smooths, no great crested. A few frogs and toads appeared and thousands of tadpoles were evident. Surprisingly, most of the newts observed were found in the water troughs that catch water spilled from taps.
 
On Saturday morning the traps were examined and only one male palmate newt had been caught.

This was in the natural pond on the development site. Newts eggs were also found there, which bodes well for the future. There was abundant microscopic pondlife , so although the water doesn’t look clean it must be of a reasonably good quality.
 
Nicky rounded off her inspection by touring the ponds in the local area. Although no newts were seen, her trained eyes spotted some great crested newt eggs. Wouldn’t it be nice if she found some on our site next time.







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