Triturus cristatus ssp.bonningtonensis

Much is made of the needs of Great Crested Newts, with numerous publications clearly differentiating between optimum , sub-optimum habitats etc.    A newt rescue in Strood, Kent in 2005 provided the most remarkable example of the plasticity of newt habitat selection.

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  A team of climbers were employed to investigate the stability of the old quarry faces around the Pit. The tallest cliffs are approximately 60m tall. The cliff pictured is approximately  40m tall and was investigated by abseiling down from the top. One of the climbers told us he had seen lizards on the cliff. We asked if they had run off.

‘No he replied they just sit there’.

  We showed him a selection of newts and lizards, and as we suspected, he had seen adult Great Crested Newts.

 ‘Where were they ?’ we asked.

 ‘There were several, one about 4 metres from the top near the flint layer, and there were 3 together about 25m up from the bottom!

Despite being vertical, lots of tussocks have developed, and the cliff is riddled with cracks. Invertebrate food (spiders, woodlice etc.) is abundant amongst the vegetation and crevices. The cliff is north facing so remains relatively moist and cool. Clearly for the intrepid climber these high rise habitats have a lot to offer. Whether the newts have climbed up or down is unknown but access to the cliff top is possible but would involve a very convoluted journey. I suspect that most had worked upward.

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