Posted 27th Feb 2018
The start of spring will see newts returning to their ponds across the country
Having spent the winter away hidden amongst the tree roots, under rocks or in underground crevices, their mind is on just one thing - procreation.
Once they're back in the water, the male smooth newt will take on his breeding costume, his crest extending and his colours brightening - then, he is ready for the dance.
The courtship dance of a male newt is a captivating sight to behold. Performing a ritual dancing display, with his crest erect, body held stiff and tail curled round, the tip of the tail will quiver alluringly. His seductive writhing is aimed at catching the female's attention, whilst wafting his pheromones in her direction. This will prove as irresistible as his performance, and by July, the female will have laid all her eggs. The adults will leave the pond, heading back into the meadows, hedgerows and woodland where they spend the rest of the year.
How to do it
The best time of year to see the newts dancing will be after dark, when they show up under torchlight. However, be sure to stay away if you think there could be great crested newts - it's against the law to disturb them. You should check the pond during the daylight to make sure you find a safe place to stand on dry land where you can see open spaces amongst the water weed into which newts may emerge. Then, after dark, enjoy watching the dance arenas with your torch - as always when you're around the water, take care, go together with someone else, and stay safe.
If you can't get to the special places listed below...
The great thing about newts is you don't need to go to a nature reserve to see them - most garden ponds, if they are looked after in a wildlife friendly way, will have newts breeding in them.
The southern suburbs of Peterborough are home to some of the largest newt populations in the country, with The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire owning a reserve which is entirely for these mini-dragons. Stanground Newt Ponds is a tiny pocket of land, set aside during the building of a housing estate, where both smooth newt and great crested newt breed in the two small ponds.
Berkshire, Kintbury Newt Ponds
Deryshire, Hartington Meadows
Derbyshire, Hilton Gravel Pits
Derbyshire, Rose End Meadows
Stirlingshire, Grangemouth, Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Mark Robinson