At 8.30pm this evening, I decided to visit Duck End Nature Reserve in Maulden to survey for Great Crested Newts. One was reported last year so we need to establish whether there is a breeding colony here, and one of the best ways of doing that is by 'torching' likely water bodies when darkness has fallen.
I spent the next hour and a half slowly walking around the Reserve and shining a lamp into the ponds. A pair of Muntjac watched me, bemused!
I found Common Toads in each of the ponds where good numbers of egg strings could be seen.
I finally found a small colony of Smooth Newts in what we call Pond 3. A dozen or so were swimming around in the 'Sallow Corner'. I only saw one definite male, though some were outside of the circle of light and, although they looked like females, may have been males, which can take several weeks to develop their full breeding characteristics after entering the water. I fished out the female above for a better look.
I shall be surveying a few other ponds over the next few weeks....watch this space!