I don’t usually travel as far as Anglesey for work, but occasionally it’s nice to go further afield. This project involved ecological appraisal of two small wastewater treatment works in north west Anglesey. Turning down the lane to the first site, I noticed a large development on the corner, ringed in great crested newt fencing. Fairly big clue to the main ecological concern in this area! Tourists often just visit the island’s spectacular coastline, but inland Anglesey is famous amongst ecologists for its cornucopia of wetlands, from ponds to lakes to internationally important species-rich fens and marshes. And this means great crested newts are frequently found.
Great crested newt photographed in Cheshire in 2014 as part of a licensed survey
Newts are really spiffing little animals, but surveying for them can sometimes be an adventure involving rather too much barbed wire, limbo-ing under fences, climbing over trees and through nettles! This year’s crop of ponds have been mostly quite civilised, though, including one set with a convenient pub nearby 🙂
I’m licensed to survey for great crested newts in both England and Wales and this year I’ve surveyed at three sites in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and North Wales. I’ve been lucky enough to see all five widespread British amphibian species at these sites (common toad, common frog, smooth newt, palmate newt and great crested newt). As I’ve also participated in natterjack toad surveys, that means I would only need to tick pool frog to have seen the entire amphibian fauna of the UK. I have no plans to visit Norfolk in the next few months though – too busy! Continue reading
Once again I find myself picking newts out of buckets – this time for a consultancy based in the East Midlands who not surprisingly weren’t keen for their staff to waste hours in the car every morning when they could just ask me to pop over to the site and deal with it instead 🙂 Continue reading
Except there weren’t any newts. Well, one smooth newt, but it was very small.
I found lots of toads though…
A fair chunk of my business comes from friends and former colleagues and most of the time it starts with a random text message or voicemail saying, er, could you possibly go to Newcastle tomorrow, I need someone to pick newts out of buckets. Or take water samples. Or identify plants in January (as long as it’s not snowing, I’m game). I tend not to worry about what I’m doing next week until it gets to at least Thursday lunchtime, as something always comes up…… and this time it was the aforementioned trip to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Continue reading
I’ll admit that I was confused when I saw the site plan for this project. Not much vegetation visible on the aerial photo – just a bit of urban infill on hardstanding. Why ask for an ecological appraisal? Continue reading
After a random, desperate phone call on a Friday afternoon I found myself on the Wirral at 9am Monday ready to hunt for newts. A garden centre needed supervision for clearance of vegetation on site as part of their planning conditions for new development at the site. As great crested newts had historically been recorded in the area, but not recently, the local authority had asked for Reasonable Avoidance Measures to provide reassurance that no newts would be harmed as a result of the project.
Reasonable Avoidance Measures for great crested newts means ecologist supervision for clearance of vegetation and this translates as one thing: hand searching on your hands and knees through the veg looking for anywhere newts might hide and checking all these nooks and crannies for amphibian residents.
This is super fun (!) if it involves rubble piles which have become covered in soil and vegetated over with such delights as dense, tall nettles. Perfect for amphibians plus lethal for humans with way too many opportunities to get up close and personal with nettles, heavy chunks of masonry and random bits of glass and metal. Nice (!) Luckily the area to be searched was not large and with some help from the construction boys on site was soon checked. No amphibians found, phew !
What a strange way to spend a Monday morning.