DRAG aims to raise awareness and understanding of the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, in Devon and the UK, through reptile and amphibian recording, and habitat management work. DRAG aims to bring together people with an interest in reptiles and amphibians.
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The ponds at Chudleigh Knighton Heath have been monitored during the newt breeding season to assess if there are any surviving populations of the great crested newt. The great news is that on each occasion GCN’s were found!
Since April until the end of May, six surveys took place on three ponds that are situated on either side of the Chudleigh Knighton road heading towards Bovey Tracey. There is a pond which has previously been checked for the presence of great crested newts (pond one) and two ponds on the other side of the road situated close to a bridal path (ponds two and three). Surveys included searching for eggs, bottle trapping and torch surveying. Either two or all three methods were done on each occasion. We also tested the pH of the water which did vary slightly between the ponds.
Eggs of the GCN were found in pond one but unfortunately not in high numbers. Over time, the ponds became heavily covered with foliage which made it difficult to conduct egg searching and torch surveys. Palmate newts were found in all three of the ponds but mainly in ponds one and two. It was fantastic to find great crested newts in pond one on each occasion via the bottle traps.
The highest count was on the last survey (31st May) where we found three males and one female. The week before another female was caught which had a distinguished mark which allowed us to identify her without handling. This gave us a total population count of a minimum of five adults.
Since the last survey the ponds will continue to be monitored to establish whether the ponds will dry out completely. During the dry spell in June, the ponds water level had dropped by approximately one meter in pond one and had reduced by 0.75m around the edges of ponds two and three. The pH will also continue to be monitored throughout the summer to see if there are any changes.
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