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Old 19th March 2013   #1
pondweed
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Default The life in a Cornish garden pond (palmate newts, toads, frogs!)

My friend's house in Cornwall came with a pond she was told didn't contain any fish. Except it did (and they've bred). Then tons of frogspawn. And things plinking frantically into the water if you approached during daylight. Whenever I stay at her's, we sneak out after dark with a torch for night-time safaris, and are generally thrilled by the amount of life we come across. Particularly on rainy, but relatively windless, nights.

We're almost certain the newts that inhabit her pond—and we've counted up to fourteen in and out the water one night—are palmate newts; they have a stripe down the back, and the day that we netted a few, there were ones with fluffy back feet, like the males are supposed to get when they're breeding. The information we've found on palmate newts suggests they're less likely to colonise a garden pond, but they seem to be merry here. I'd estimate it's 1.5x1m, and couldn't say how deep. I had to think hard about WHY we had the basin, and I think we were trying to clear some of the weed for the sake of the fish (though then went back through the bits we'd raked out and put ones back that looked like they had eggs on.) So she took some photos then, and I've asked (and she's given) her permission to share them. She's pretty nifty with a camera!

We were thrilled to watch a rather podgy female manipulate the weed, and, we presume, lay. (This was about a fortnight ago.) I really don't know enough to say for certain.

I can't find any photos of the toads, unfortunately, but there are an awful lot of them. I understand they lay in deeper water? Last year, my friend was able to take a photo of spawn near the surface.

I reckon the frogs just lay on a tadpole buffet for the newts, toad larvae, and dragonfly/damselfly nymphs. (We've seen cases from emerged ones.)

I've seen lots of similar frogs/toads mating at a privately-owned garden, and newts in pools of about the same depth as my friend's (with lots and lots of weed!) It was entirely too distracting when I was working there as a waitress, and had to flick between the restaurant and beach cafe.

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Check out that face!

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Pretty pair.

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Palmate newts?

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I really like the reflection on this one. Soothing colours.



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Old 21st March 2013   #2
Bug_Juice
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Default Re: The life in a Cornish garden pond (palmate newts, toads, frogs!)

Nice pics.

I call home to my parents in Scotland more regularly around this time of year just to find out how the old garden pond is doing! I built it myself ten years ago, and first of all we had an explosion of frogs but more recently the newts (Palmates) have taken over and you are lucky to spot a frog tadpole at all.

Palmate newts tolerate more acidic waters so do better in upland and heath-land areas and are actually more common in areas such as the South West and Scottish Highlandes than 'Common'/Smooth Newts.



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Old 21st March 2013   #3
pondweed
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Default Re: The life in a Cornish garden pond (palmate newts, toads, frogs!)

My friend's very skilled when it comes to her camera. I'm tempted to go scouting around the countryside in Sussex to see what I can find, but it's actually quagmire on any lowland here at the moment. (I'm keeping my eye out for when they put the blue plastic toad guards up against the side of the road, so they don't get squished trying to get down to the flood planes. Actually, I'm going to look into whether they take volunteers to help collect them up and cross the road.)

I found some eggs laid on moss in a tree a few years back, around this time. Which is sad (the jelly hadn't expanded so I don't think it could be wet enough), but curious, from a behavioural perspective.

Thank you for the explanation about acidic waters.

So, in your pond, are the frogs still laying, but the newts eating the tadpoles...? Or have the frogs moved on because it's already populated?

In the large pool at the gardens where I used to work, there were definitely newts, and newt larvae, but there were also tons of tadpoles, and, later in the summer, I got to catch the froglets leaving.



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Old 22nd March 2013   #4
Bug_Juice
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Default Re: The life in a Cornish garden pond (palmate newts, toads, frogs!)

Still get frogspawn, but the newts seem to eat pretty much all the taddies - I've seen them munching through the spawn itself. It's only a small round pond of equal depth all over, so there's not many places for the tadpoles to hide later on either.



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