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Posts Tagged ‘newt’

I’ve just spent a very pleasant weekend with my parents up in Cheshire, so the badgers have been undisturbed this week.  But this evening I have opened another chapter in the sandpit story.

Remember the saga of the tracks in the sandpit a few weeks ago?  Remember how what I thought was a mouse turned out to be a lizard?  And how the dried-up lizard (after a very sensible suggestion from Steve) turned out to be a newt?

I planned to examine the dessicated little corpse to see if I could make a clear identification, but to be honest I left it outside, it rained and the once dried body went a bit mushy and unpleasant.  Not conducive for a close investigation.

Today, however, the sandpit claimed another victim.  It wasn’t good news for the newt but it gave me a chance to examine the body in more detail.  Firstly, here is the fatal sandpit:

The Fatal Sandpit

Just an excuse to show off our new play area, really.  The sandpit has a fairly close-fitting lid that keeps the cat out but obviously allows newts to creep inside.  The sides are smooth plastic, 6″ tall.  It seems that the newts can climb in but not climb out.  I’m going to have to build some sort of ‘newt ladder’ so that any future visitors can escape.

Anyhow – the more I look at this one, the more it looks like a smooth newt:

Newt - top view

Look at the spots on the underside:

Newt - underside

And here’s a close-up – note the absence of claws on the toes:

Newt - close up

It all fits.  The newts in the neighbour’s pond must have be breeding.  According to Wild About Britain, “when [young smooth newts] leave the pond they are about 3 cm long. They then spend two or three years on land as terrestrial juveniles, and don’t return to the pond until they are ready to breed“.

But as I said, I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again.  If anyone has any alternate identifications, please do let me know…

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Beautiful warm night tonight, which is fitting for the spring equinox, I suppose.  I happened to take a visit to the vegetable garden tonight (I’ve been hard at work there lately, digging and planting) when I heard a commotion from the pond in our neighbour’s garden.  Shining the torch, I could see that there were dozens of toads sitting on the damp grass and splashing in the water.

Common toad - Bufo bufo

It is obviously toad mating time again – there was no doubt what some of the toads were doing.

The fascinating thing was the noise they were making.  I’ve never heard toads sing like this before, but they really did make quite a noise.  Here is a recording I made (turn your volume up) that captures the sound:

I’ve seen toads mating here in previous years, but the sheer number this year made it quite a spectacle.  For a species in decline it was good to see them obviously thriving here.  Hats off to my neighbour for having such a good wildlife pond in his garden.

Mrs BWM made the find of the evening when she came across a small newt on the edge of the pond.  I’m not a newt expert by any means, so I’m not sure what species it is.  I’ll look it up in the guidebooks when I get a chance.

NewtI remember reading somewhere that newts will eat frog- and toad-spawn, so perhaps it wasn’t as innocent as it looked.

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