Chilly newts delay survey season

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Due to the sustained period of cold weather this year, The Ecology Consultancy protected species ecologists have delayed the start date of amphibian surveys. Pond surveys should only be undertaken where the night-time air temperature is in excess of 5°C, between March and June each year when newts are using ponds for breeding. This is in accordance with current guidelines devised by Natural England.

In very cold conditions newts can become so inactive that they may go undetected during a survey.  There is also a welfare issue in terms of newts occupying bottle traps overnight in cold conditions. Bottle trapping is used as one of the survey methods as it is an effective way of detecting a newt population.

With temperatures falling below 5°C most evenings throughout March to date, the surveys have been put on hold in order to comply with best practice.  Great crested newts usually emerge from hibernation from late February onwards to go to their breeding ponds, however some individuals may still be sheltering periodically from the cold temperatures within terrestrial habitats, such as this hibernaculum.

Reference: Natural England (2001). Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines. Peterborough, UK: Natural England.

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