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An Essex Wildlife Garden Update!

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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Mar 2018 at 10:39pm
Trying to find out for sure Suzi. Nearest I know of is in next village, which is a pond just over 2,000 meters away, though I don't think anybody surveyed it for years. Just arable fields between the pond and ours with reasonable hedgerow connectivity. Trying to see if EARG or the EFC have any records for closer in recent times as passed on being the county recorder and can no longer use the database.

Very chuffed about her being there. Saw her again tonight. I guess it's possible she is just passing through, but still lovely to see her. It's was quite funny really because even after years of doing surveys it was so unexpected I had to go out again and really make sure I wasn't seeing things! Wink



Edited by GemmaJF - 07 Mar 2018 at 10:41pm
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Liz Heard View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Mar 2018 at 8:44pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

Very chuffed about her being there.  </span>Wink





I bet you are!

Your observation neatly illustrates just how adept newts are at wandering and colonising. Shame the same can't be said of many of our reptile species....

Edited by Liz Heard - 08 Mar 2018 at 8:45pm
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Mar 2018 at 10:09pm
Yep, I've long thought Ben that at least some of any amphibian population just wander off for life until they happen to find somewhere suitable. We've have a few experiences like finding toads all along the sides of motorways, suggesting they just kept going and then the motorway proved to be a barrier. Our smooth newt population existed before the pond, were some using it within days of us putting in the pond first time round, so they must have been nearby already just waiting for a pond to appear.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Mar 2018 at 10:13pm
Update on the frogs, now have 3 pairs, 19 loan males and 1 loan female, things are hotting up!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2018 at 9:02am
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

Yep, I've long thought Ben that at least some of any amphibian population just wander off for life until they happen to find somewhere suitable.


I agree, and have a feeling i read that somewhere too.
The amount of times people with new ponds have told me "they just turned up, i don't know where they came from".
Like you i've frequently found newts under logs/stones hundreds of metres up on top of hills - and far from the nearest standing water.

Another indicator is the fact that usually, if they're in one pond, they'll also be in all the other ones in the vicinity.

It seems to me that other than protection of habitat/connectivity, all newts need to do better, is more healthy ponds.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2018 at 10:52am
When I reported my sighting of a male GCN to the Devon branch I was told that a female had recently been reported fairly near to me. I knew of a male that had been seen in a domestic pond about ten years ago (and maybe half a mile away in a straight line). As I've said here before I put in my larger pond in the hopes of attracting GCNs as I'd seen one under a plant pot in the garden a few years earlier. I was beyond thrilled to see one in the pond two years ago and last year I saw an adult male in both ponds, but am not sure if it was the same creature. Someone said to me that it is unlikely I've just got one GCN, probably more. It is difficult as Natural England said I must not look in the ponds with a torch. Had I not done that I would not have been able to pass my sighting on to the record centre. So I have to respect that and so have no idea whether I've still got GCNs or not. I've never seen them surface for air whilst sat watching in the daytime and it makes me think more people here might have them than realise as they are hard to spot. 
I live in a valley bottom and the hillsides to the east historically had marl pits, a few of which are now ponds. However I think the likeliest hotspot will be the flooded old brickworks about a third of a mile away. It is on private land and undisturbed.
Between me and the brickworks is a housing estate, fields and roads. The sunken stream at the bottom of the gardens here comes partly from the brickworks so I guess that is a route. The water flows swiftly and is a raging torrent in flood times. Grass snakes also find their way here, so there are ways they get here. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2018 at 11:16am
I think there is a paper about it this and GCN Ben. They found a proportion of newly metamorphosed newts followed the adults back to habitat they traditionally used outside the breeding season, but many dispersed out in every direction with no known nearby good habitat. So a case of take their chances until they found some. I guess getting technical it would make sense in the UK we have species that do that, there wasn't much time for them to colonise after the last ice age, so it would have favoured mobile and rapidly colonising species.  Totally agree, it's just connectivity and more suitable ponds, if I ever win the lottery, the next day, forget the cruise around the world, I'm buying a farm and a digger Wink Never really thought any herp conservation was difficult, habitat creation and connectivity is about all it is for any species. Unfortunately in the wider view it is loss of habitat and connectivity that has always been the main problem.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2018 at 11:22am
There has been recent house building here and it is as near to the old brick work ponds as I am. Would be nice if legislation meant the developers were obliged to put in ponds. I can see the problems ...who would care for the ponds...danger to children...etc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2018 at 12:06pm
There are moves to change things Suzi, though there seems to be at least some skepticism about the scheme, I'm keeping an open mind. The idea is that developers pay into the scheme, so the money gets spent on habitat creation rather than miles of fencing and capture work. I would guess in many cases it would be giving the green light for the diggers to roll over the newts, but on the other hand the system we have doesn't really work so well and rarely results in a net gain in habitat. We all know about the bad mitigations and lack of follow up work on receptor sites etc that goes on. So perhaps this approach will benefit the newts more in the long-term. 


I have plenty of concerns, would worry in a county like Essex where herps are heavily under recorded the records would not really be representative for a scheme like this. Also worry about loss of genetic diversity. Think many feel at the moment the scheme at least seems at first view more a get out of jail free card for developers. We will have to see though, there are good people such as Tony Gent involved. Even in the early days when people started to realise we might have a problem with herp conversation it was Tony Gent who talked most sense in terms of habitat creation and connectivity. Shame the consultants who were raking in the money did not read more of his advice on what they should be aiming to achieve.



Edited by GemmaJF - 10 Mar 2018 at 12:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2018 at 12:28pm
Interesting read Gemma. 

Suz
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