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The Hunt for the Great Crested Newt at Swains Lane Local Nature Reserve 2018

May 9, 2018 HannahMaben Company NewsEcological ConsultancyProjectsSomerset

In April 2018, Seasons Ecology volunteered to undertake a great crested newt survey at Swains Lane Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 2018. The LNR was designated for its population of great crested newts by Natural England in 2004 and consists of a traditional orchard with both young and veteran trees, semi-improved grassland, mature hedgerows, marshy grassland as well as a freshwater pond, all of which is maintained by a dedicated local volunteer group. In 2016, Seasons Ecology was commissioned by Blackdown Hills Natural Futures Project on behalf of Taunton Deane Borough Council and the local volunteers to write the new ten-year habitat management plan for between 2017 to 2027.

During this initial survey a combination of egg searching, torchlight and bottle-trapping survey techniques were used under Natural England’s Survey Class Licence WML-CL08 (Great Crested Newt Class 1) to assess the presence/absence of great crested newt in the pond.Seasons Ecology also carried out a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for the pond to calculate its suitability to support a great crested newt population. The result of this investigation was unfortunate, with the pond having a total suitability index of 0.55 (below average). This was mainly due to the ponds small size and annual drying out.

Despite this below average HSI Seasons Ecology discovered that the pond has a wealth of palmate and smooth newts with over 50 being present in the bottle-trap survey alone and the presence of eggs confirming the breeding status of the pond! No evidence of great crested newts was recorded during this initial assessment, but the team is hopeful the pond still supports this species. Further surveys are proposed and Seasons Ecology will provide further advice to the conservation volunteers of Swains Lane LNR to give the best chance for a great crested newt in the future.

Ecologistgreat crested newtGreat crested newt surveysurvey season

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Seasons Ecology Limited Directors: K M Hayward MCIEEM & H M Maben MCIEEM
Registered Address: 69 High Street, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2AT
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