I’ve had a couple of opportunities this week to go out surveying local ponds for amphibians. These sites are part of the PondNet survey for the Freshwater Habitats Trust. This is a national volunteer survey scheme, whereby people are trained to survey ponds in their area every year for frogs, toads and great crested newts.
I haven’t done any amphibian work before so last Saturday I took the opportunity to attend a PondNet training session at Furzebrook. It was a great introduction to what to look for and how to identify the different species. I found it surprising how many non-native amphibians can be found in the UK – including edible frogs!
The key species to look out for are common frog (Rana temporaria), common toad (Bufo bufo), great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) and smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris).
This week we’ve been surveying for toads, which involves going out to the ponds after dark and using powerful torches to search for toads in particular and amphibians in general. Both evenings we counted about 300 toads in total, with a handful of smooth newts and frogs. It’s the beginning of the breeding season for toads so they are still making their way to ponds to find mates. Last night we counted quite a few pairs though so it’s definitely picking up. The male toads tend to be smaller than the females, sometimes the size difference can be considerable!
In the next few weeks I will be getting invloved in some great crested newt surveying, including bottle trapping so there will be more amphib posts to come!