17 Newt Spotters…

..went to Tudhoe Sewage Treatment Works one fine evening

 

Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham project works in partnership with Northumbrian Water. Volunteers with the project have, over the last 3 years, spent many cold hours in waders up to their nether regions in an old clay pit pond which is situated on land adjacent to Northumbrian Waters Tudhoe works. Unbelievably the scheduled days for this cold activity have either really been extremely cold with volunteers having to break the ice on the top of the pond last winter, or they have been deluged with torrential rain! The reason for this extreme activity is to clear the pond of a build of dead leaves, typhii and pond weed which over the years to create space and light within the pond.

 

 

This hardship on the volunteers has done wonders. The pond at Tudhoe is important for Great Crested Newts and numbers of these species have steadily risen over the last three years. Surveying of the pond started in 2012, when 16 newts were recorded by Northumbrian Water conservation staff. Pond clearance was started in 2015 and since then newt numbers have steadily increased reaching a wonderful 105 this year.

 

Great Crested Newts are a UK biodiversity protected species so the increasing numbers at this site is important and a credit to the habitat management being carried out by the volunteers.

Munching from a warming bag of chips volunteers waited for darkness to fall, scanning the sky for any passing bats.

 

 

Biosecurity at sites such as this is very important. Cleaning volunteer and surveyors boots helps to avoid the spread of non- native species which could cause a threat to the insects and newts in the pond. Volunteers lined up to wash their boots in disinfectant before the nights activity.

With strong torches the group, divide in to smaller teams, walked the edge of the pond. The bright beams quickly picked up newts of all sizes on the pond floor, and on the pond weed. It was an exciting evening of discovery into the night time watery world and importantly showed volunteers the value of their hard work over the winter months.