Have we got Newts for you!
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust has undertaken surveys at Woodhouse Washlands into the suitability of its ponds for great crested newts.
A total of six ponds were scored as ‘excellent’ in the Habitat Suitability Index survey, which was carried out as part of the Trust’s National Lottery Heritage Funded project, Data for Nature. It was hoped the three-month survey would highlight which ponds are suitable for great crested newts, as well as identify areas for improvement on the site. The Data for Nature volunteer team were supported by staff from Wildscapes CIC - an environmental consultancy and subsidiary of the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. According to the results, the estimated population size of great crested newts is 82 individuals. The surveys were carried out by staff and volunteers who set bottle traps, egg searched and torched each pond individually. The next morning they returned to site to check the bottle traps, recording numbers of great crested newts in each pond.
The HSI survey was completed during one visit to site where volunteers used the standard HSI method to assess each pond. The survey involves assessing different aspects of each pond including: pond area size, presence or absence of fish, and vegetation cover.
A correlation was found between the number of great crested newts found in each pond and the HSI score. This indicates that typically ponds with higher HSI scores contain more newts. Based on the findings, the Trust was keen to identify key issues affecting habitat suitability for great crested newts, and can focus on continuing to improve the site to successfully manage and conserve our great crested newt population.
Nabil Abbas, survey co-ordinator and reserve manager, said: “The monitoring has found a thriving population of great crested newts in the complex of ponds there, including in the four new ponds which have been colonised since they were created 18 months ago.”