Great Crested Newts

ECOLOGY

 

The great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) is the largest of the UK's native newt species. They have dark skin that appears granular with fine white flecks on their underside. The male has a jagged crest during the breeding season that dips at the base of the tail with a silver streak along its flanks. Adults will congregate to the breeding site  from up to 1.5 km away from February to May and will leave the ponds between May and July. On land newts generally seek underground refuges where they may come out at night to feed and disperse.

 

SURVEYS

 

Great crested newts spend much of the year on land and can be difficult to detect during this period. Survey effort is therefore concentrated in potential breeding ponds when they congregate in the spring and summer to reproduce. Due to the protection afforded to great crested newts, all survey techniques must be conducted by a licensed individual. Great crested newts are primarily nocturnal, therefore it is necessary to survey at night as well as the day, and during the breeding period of mid March to mid June. Four visits are required to determine presence or absence of the species , or six visits to estimate population size class. In either case, 50% of the visits must take place between mid April and mid May. There are several techniques commonly used in combination during a site visit for each survey. These are: 

 

  • Egg Searching

  • Netting

  • Lamping

 

Depending on the time of year or the conditions of the pond, other survey methods may be implemented which include:

 

  • Refugia Searching (searching under logs, old roofing felt etc.)

  • Bottle Trapping

 

Aether Ecology provide licensed newt workers to undertake all our surveys. If you require any more information on our great crested newt surveys, contact us and we will be happy to help.

 

MITIGATION & LICENSING

 

Great crested newt surveys are seasonally constrained because of the limited window when waterbodies are in use. Surveys should be considered at an early stage of planning to factor in the time scale required for surveys. If great crested newts are present on a site they will be a constraint to any development. It may be possible to apply for a protected species development licence  from the appropriate Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO).

 

LAW & LEGISLATION

 

The great crested newt is afforded the highest protection of all the UK's amphibians. They are safeguarded by both national and European laws including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation Regulations 1994 as transposed from the Habitats Directive 1992. It is illegal to intentionally injure, kill, take, possess or sell or to intentionally or wrecklessly damage, destroy, disturb or obstruct a place used for shelter. To undertake great crested newt surveys, a great crested newt licence must be held by the site ecologist

 

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