Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nature Study:: British Palmate Newt

It is a GLORIOUS day in Devon today, perfect for getting outside and doing a bit of nature study. As I mentioned last week sometime, we found lots of newts in our pond, I knew that I really wanted to focus on them soon. They tend to hide away on cloudy days and in fact are most active at night. But today I think even the newts were happy with the abundance of sunshine for they were swimming about an in clear view. 

We caught two newts for closer observation. We wanted to identify them - we knew they were not the rare Crested Newts after careful observation, one of my lovely readers informed me that you can receive a rather hefty fine for handling Crested Newts without a licence. On further investigation you are not even allowed to disturb their habitats. But these we could see were not Crested, so we carefully scooped them up.

Once indoors we watched this video to help us identify which newts we had and whether we had caught males or females. 

Turns out our newts were both male, we later caught a female. Our newts are Palmate newts which apparently are more common in Devon, Cornwall, Scotland and Wales where the Common newt is found less frequently.

These are really fascinating little creatures. They hibernate in winter in log or rock piles. We have a rockery right next to the pond so we suspect that that is where they were hiding out until recently. They will remain in the pond over the breeding season but can be found wandering the garden in late summer to early autumn hunting for food. They are more active at night so I guess we were lucky to see them out and about during the day, but if you wanted to see if you had newts in your pond you could go out with a flashlight and look in your pond once night falls.

What a lovely study this has been! We shall be keeping a watchful eye on our little newts and see what happens throughout the spring and summer. Hopefully we will see baby newts!

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