I have a standard size garden pond. What I don’t think is standard is the amount of newts that live in it. I would estimate that there could be as many as one hundred!
We have a reasonable size garden and the pond is situated at the far end from the house. Either side are similar gardens and behind is a school field. When I was young, many small frogs would voyage through the long grass near the house and in an old stone wall at the far end. This was despite there being no pond. I think that there was the occasional newt too.
I have Smooth and Palmate newts. Depending on age and gender it’s not always easy to distinguish between the two and I often confuse myself. That said, Palmates (Possibly adult male) have webbed hind feet and a distinguishable filament at the end of their tale. I did once witness a full on courtship dance. The dark coloured newts contrasted against the light stone just below the surface of the water. The male was waving its tail in the direction of the female. It was amazing to watch, to see such raw nature occurring in my pond.
I’ve sighted about eight to twelve adult newts at one time though it’s not easy to count as they move around the pond. What I really clocked last year though was the sheer volume of young newts and that’s where my figure of one hundred comes from.
The pond has lots of vegetation that can be used as cover, no fish and crucially… no running water. I think that this is a big part of the reason that I have lots of newts in what is a clearish but mud-bottomed pond. My neighbour though, who has a more ornamental and flowing pond, also has newts.
It’s February and I’ve already seen some prominent newt activity in the pond. I hope that I haven’t disturbed them when breaking ice. My dad lost an absurd amount of frogs when not breaking the ice one winter. My understanding is though that the newts are more land based during winter before returning to breeding grounds.
Hopefully there’ll be much activity soon. If the weather’s good then they’re usually out in force from March until June so I look forward to sharing some insights in due course. Interestingly, I can’t claim to have had much success when looking for them at night as is often recommended. They’re are are reasonably prominent during the daytime but often dive below the surface when they notice my shadow.
For the record, the Great Crested Newt is the third type of newt that resides in the UK but it’s much rarer… bigger, and rarer. You wouldn’t expect to find this protected species in a pond such as mine. I believe that one or two other species (Alpine and Italian Crested) have made their presence felt in the UK as well.