A few weeks back I joined the Essex Amphibian and Reptile Group on a survey of ponds in the Weald Country Park near Brentwood.
Led again by the awesome Graham Hart we met at 19:00 to lay down transects of traps at one location before making our way to another to survey the sides of the pond by torch. A group of fallow deer on the horizon, eyes reflecting the torch light, were a welcomed reminder of life after dark. As were the active mandarin ducks on the pond as we arrived.
We soon had our first smooth newt caught by net and checked. Next up were a couple common toads and a few more smooth newts.
Then the big guys put in an appearance: the great crested newts. Two were caught by the group to be recorded and then released. Such a privilege to be so close to these protected creatures.
Heading back to the first location, we carefully pulled out the net baskets and collected the various newts that had been on the curious side and ventured into the nets. All were placed carefully in an observation tank to be recorded. We recorded a good number of smooth newts and three more great crested newts including two rather handsome males.
A fantastic and educational way to spend the evening.