Thursday 24 April 2014

Brilliant Newt Count Night

The Newt Count Night last night run by Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group was well attended by about 20 people. It began with a treat organised by Robin Dalton of the Countryside Service. He invited Chris Tindal to attend who introduced Great Crested Newts into his parents pond many years ago. He now has a licence to handle them and use them for educational purposes, (he is a lecturer in Natural Sciences,) so he brought some males and a females in an aquarium for us to see.
Apologies for the poor pictures. The light levels were low, and the tank reflected the flash when I tried to use that.

Creat Crested Newts are not known to occur naturally in Calderdale. They are fully protected and you now need a licence to catch them and also to move them.

The search of the ponds on Tag Loop and the old wheel-wash for trucks on North Loop was also very successful, with hundreds of Palmate and Smooth Newts, males and females, found by the light of our torches.

We also saw at least two toads.

The two above are the male Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus. His flamboyant spring crest is less noticeable out of water.
The three below are a female Great Crested Newt. Clicking on the pictures enlarges them, when the warty skin should be visible. An alternative name for this species  is Warty Newt..

In the aquarium, pictured from underneath, the size of the Great Crested Newt, with boldly marked belly, contrasts with the size of  and the faintly marked bellies of the Palmate Newts Triturus helveticus.

In this picture (above) you can see the boldly marked bellies of the Great Crested Newt; the smaller one with a boldly marked belly is a male Smooth Newt Triturus vulgaris, which is about the same size as the Palmate Newts, with less well marked bellies. 
Many thanks to Chris Tindal for taking the trouble to catch and bring males and females of all three species of  British newts, and apologies again for not being able to get better pictures. The FSC (Field Studies Council) sheet on Reptile and Amphibian identification is very good. (£2.75)

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