Freesteel Blog » One Newt

One Newt

Friday, May 1st, 2009 at 4:31 pm Written by:

Yesterday night Stella and I went to rural Cheshire to shine a torch into some muddy ponds. And traps were stuck into the mud. The traps are home made from empty pop-bottles (the big plastic kind) with the top cut off, reversed and stuck back into the bottle, then speared with a little stick they got stuck into the mud along the edge of the ponds. Somehow these traps are attractive to amphibians, like newts. But be warned: You have to be licensed to use these traps: it is illegal to kill, capture or even possess a Great Crested Newt, or mess with it’s habitat. Needless to say Stella is licensed.

It was really interesting: In one pond we saw dozens of leeches moving about, probably waiting for prey. We did not try to identify them, but reminded ourselves not to forget to wear gloves when reaching into the water. Then we spotted fresh water mussels which were huge and native. Stella identified them as “Swan Mussel”.
We also saw a large bird, probably an owl, hunting in the dark near one pond. I say we, but it was really Stella who has this amazing ability to spot any wildlife, whereas I always miss it. But I heard owls calling out from the field verges.

We left the traps over night (we had set ca. 90 traps) and returned early this morning to check them and count any amphibians that got inside. These traps warm up during the day in the sunlight, and any animals trapped would die if they are not let out in time.

Only one newt was found, a more common, so called “Smooth Newt”. Newts are protected all over Europe, and “Great Crested Newt” enjoy the highest level of protection in the UK. Other animals found included a water scorpion, a few little, very frightened fish, tadpoles of frogs and toads and a few fast moving water boatmen.

No need to say this was a very welcome distraction from the usual day of working behind the computer.

Really sorry I did not take a camera.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <strong>