Monday, 23 April 2012

Really looking

My week in Jersey was great, but it was a real treat to be back on my own patch yesterday. I spent much of the day down by the Cych waiting to see kingfishers. With no bankside vegetation and trees still mostly leafless, they're relatively easy to see just now.
In the garden everything is on fast-forward, the rate of growth is remarkable. The birds are busy too; a wren is sitting on eggs in the garage, the great tit is coming and going to the nestbox on the old apple tree and more and more swallows are arriving.
But the pond was the focus of my 'really looking' moment. As I say, there's been an explosion of plant growth and that includes pond algae. So, I thought I'd spend a bit of time fishing some out.
I use an old tennis racket for the job. It works really well, pulling out clumps of growth that can then be examined for trapped animals. 
Usually each scoop of green has one or two newt tadpoles in it, but yesterday I pulled out an adult newt. I popped it into a container to have a 'real' look and got a bit of a surprise.
At this time of year I take a look into the pond most nights and do a newt count - there are usually seven or eight in the shallow end. I 'd assumed that they are smooth newts, but may accidental catch was clearly a palmate.
My picture isn't good. OK, it's dire - but it does show the tiny filament at the end of the newt's tail and webbed back feet that are ID clinchers for a male palmate newt. Just goes to show that you shouldn't assume you know what you're looking at.  

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