Sunday, 20 July 2008

Great Crested Newt, and friends

Not sure whether the chap immediately above is a frog or a toad, but all of them I found under logs round Brown Moss. You can be fined thousands of pounds for interefering with GCNs, so you can be sure I put that bit of wood back very carefully! The tiny lizard in the middle I think is a common lizard. Update: see comments below. What we're looking at is newts and toads.
Took a walk down Edward German Drive afterwards and found fresh water vole feeding, prints, and an old latrine I hadn't seen before, up at the Waylands Close end.


Ben said...

Hi Kate

the bottom picture is definitely a common toad: they have swollen areas behind the eyes and their skin is noticeably warty compared to common frogs.

It's great to see a couple of GCNs.

Are you sure the lizard is a lizard? I know you were there and photos don't always carry the full context but from the photo it looks like a palmate newt?

Kate said...

Gosh, thanks, how exciting! I've never seen an adult palmate newt, let alone a baby one. How can you tell?

(Lizard was only a guess - I don't know anything much about reptiles or amphibians.)

Kate said...

Are these newts as well, then?

Ben said...

Someone once told me that the best way to tell the difference between a newt and a lizard is:

"Can you pick it up?" If you can it's a newt.

There are two species of smaller newt native to the UK: common or smooth and palmate. You can't realistically tell the difference between the females but the males are quite different (in the breeding season at least).

Male smooth newts have a jagged crest along their back. They are often quite dark on top and very bright underneath.

Male palmate newts have a filament that extends from the tip of the tail (I think I can see this which is why I think it might be palmate). Their hind feet also tend to get very feathery (like palm trees) which I can't see on this one.

Palmate newts tend to be seen as a more upland species so one might not normally expect to see them at Brown Moss.

I might stroll up and have a look one evening...

Ben said...

I think the other picture is probably of newts thought they do look more lizardy.

The hind feet look soft and slightly webbed so I'm going for female newts but I can't be completely sure.

Kate said...

Going by the 'Do they run away' test, these were all newts, then.

And (slaps forehead) it's dawning on me that I've had a couple of newts in the garden over the years, one under the doormat and one underneath a plant pot. Both were dark slatey grey, which makes me think they might have been GCNs, but because we had no pond it never occurred to me that's what they might be. Like a lot of people, I was under the impression that amphibians needed a body of water right next to them to survive.

Now we have a pond, I'm au fait with common/smooth newts in their various life stages, but the other species remain a bit of a mystery.

Thanks for your help with IDs, Ben.