A female Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus), about 14cm in length
It is slightly odd that the individuals we caught were all female as the males are generally the first to arrive at breeding ponds. Only the males have the impressive crest which runs along their backs, which I am yet to see! It may be that the relatively cold spring has confused breeding cycles somewhat, so it will be interesting to see what turns up in the next few weeks.
The overall population trend shows these impressive fire-bellied amphibians have suffered a decline in numbers in the UK, probably due to agricultural intensification and loss of suitable habitat. That’s not to say they're not around: in fact, people have reported G.C.N. turning up in some rather interesting places including water-treatment ponds and concrete pools! However for breeding sites they tend to favour medium-sized bodies of deep water with good vegetation cover.
By taking photographs of the undersides of GCN we can identify individuals and estimate the population
Underbelly of the beast: the plastic box and sponge doesn’t hurt them, think of it as like a damp foam-hug...
A female Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) which has distinguishable spotted throat, and is around 9cm in length