01. Why Survey for Great Crested Newts and Other Amphibians?
Despite the fact that the Great Crested Newt receives legal protection, unless the geographical range and the density of populations around the county are known there is little that can be done to safeguard the habitat of these animals. This project aims to improve our understanding of great crested newts by surveying ponds. Collecting data concerning population sizes at ponds can help to improve our understanding of how newts from different ponds interact as a larger community. These larger communities are known as metapopulations and, when identified, source ponds (those where newts breed successfully and disperse) and sink ponds (those where newts exist but do not breed in large numbers) can be highlighted and relative emphasis can be given to their value for Great Crested Newts.
02. Project Aims
This project aims to involve volunteers in survey work for amphibians, specifically Great Crested Newts. All of the information that is collected by this project will be added to KRAG’s database of herpetofauna. This not only allows us to analyse the information that you send but also means that we can share the data with other partner organisations such as conservation organisations, academic institutions and planning authorities. KRAG’s objectives for the project include:
- To train volunteers in amphibian ecology and survey techniques
- Provide opportunities for vcolunteers to undertake amphibian survey work
- Gain a better understanding of Great Crested Newt distribution in the county
- Identify the most important amphibian sites
- To test existing habitat suitability model for Great Crested Newts
03. How Can I Get Involved?
To become a volunteer in the GCN Monitoring Project all you need to do is attend a one-day training course and be prepared to carry out some survey work at night using a torch and possibly a net.
- KRAG are always looking for volunteers to join the project and take on survey work. The amount of surveying that is done is down to the volunteer but can range from surveying a garden pond through to surveying all of the ponds on a site or in their local area.
- Volunteers are encouraged to conduct egg searches, net surveys and torchlight surveys which involve visits during the day and at night.
- As GCN are a European Protected Species it is essential that all volunteers are covered by a licence and once participants have attended a one-day training workshop they are allowed to carry out GCN torchlight and net surveys as an accredited agent under one of KRAG’s licences.
- Training for volunteers is free and covers amphibian identification, ecology, survey techniques and the project protocols and strategy. Although KRAG are not in a position to gift survey equipment (torches and nets) to participants there are sets of equipment that can be borrowed which are located in Dover, Maidstone and Dartford.
- For more details on becoming a volunteer surveyor for the Great Crested Newt Monitoring Project contact Mike Phillips.
04. When and Where Do I Look?
Amphibians are predominantly nocturnal so the best time to look for animals is after darkness falls. Searches of ponds and their surrounds by torchlight can often reveal frogs, toads and newts. However, you can still find evidence of amphibians and reptiles in ponds during the day Frog spawn is easily visible during the day, usually in the shallower areas of the pond. Toad spawn strings can be seen wrapped around vegetation and newt eggs are deposited individually wrapped in a leaf or other vegetation. If you are lucky you might even see a grass snake hunting.
The time of year that you look is also important. Frogs and toads are explosive breeders and tend to only stay in ponds for a short period of time. Mid to late February through to the beginning of April are the best time to see adults of these species. Newts can be found in ponds for a longer period of the spring. Great Crested Newts are often seen in water in mild Januarys and can linger in the water until late May and even early June. However, the best time to look for newts is April and May. Remember, you need a licence to survey specifically for Great Crested Newts. Even after adult newts have left the pond, netting ponds in summer and autumn can reveal the presence of newt larvae.
For more information about identifying animals have a look at our amphibian species pages.
05. Submitting Records
Whatever you find, either doing formal survey work or just out and about in the countryside, we’d love to hear from you.
You can submit casual records on our online web sighting form.
Alternatively, download our Data Import Spreadsheet to tell us about multiple record.
Whatever you do, we’re here to help so just let us know if you have any questions.
06. Project Gallery
07. Project Documents
Useful documents for participants in the Great Crested Newt Monitoring Project.
Great Crested Newt Monitoring Project survey strategy. Find out the best way to survey as part of the project.
Easy to complete risk assessment for amphibian surveys
Recording form for amphibian surveys
Habitat and HSI recording form for pond surveys
Easy to use spreadsheet for entering records ready for importing into the Kent database of herpetofauna
Spreadsheet for calculating and reporting HSI scores for pond surveys
Biosecurity advice from ARG UK
ARG UK instructions for calculating the HSI score for a pond