Friday, 5 January 2007

A eureka moment.

Newts spend most of their life, not in water as you might expect, but on land. They prefer to hide by day and come out to feed at night. They look rather like lizards, but, unlike them, they have no scales. They are shy creatures by nature and not easily spotted, unless you know where to look.

We can't say exactly which year newts came to our ponds. The frogs with their spawn are easily seen and heard each Spring and cause no end of interest in our garden. But look though we might, we never actually saw any newts. We saw movement which might have been the flick of a tail, but nothing more definite than that. The underwater forest of pondweed was excellent cover.

However, one day, when our elder son was about to wipe his feet at the back door, he noticed something wedged between the rubber slats of the doormat. Thinking it might be a slug, he picked it up so as not to squash it with his feet. The excitement on his face, at being the first to discover we did indeed have newts in our ponds, was worth a camera shot of him holding the newt before he returned it to its hiding place.

Since then, we regularly see newts in Spring each year when they come to the ponds to breed. We also look for their eggs which they lay singly on the water plants. I have on several occasions come across one under a stone when I have been working in the garden. They always lie very still, as if playing possum, but a few moments later, they are gone.

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