Tag Archives: niche

TREE CLIMBING NEWTS AND WORMS

For regulars I am looking increasingly like a teller of tall tales, but last night I was out newting in Buckinghamshire, and after evening rain everything was dripping and misty.  I was looking for inverts on a tall standing beech trunk, upon which were a  couple of Hylecoetus dermestoides a red saproxylic beetle which seems to be booming in numbers. But on the opposite side there were 4 Smooth newt efts (last years emergees) climbing straight up the trunk. One was nearly 2m up!! Nearby on the recumbent snapped off upper bole sat a common toad male deep in thought, which had me thinking how had he climbed up onto a 1m high round beech surrounded in rhododendron?? It reminded me of a night in 1990 on the Merseyside sand-dunes when a long drought was ended with heavy rain. That night newts and small toads were seen up amongst bramble and other bushes up to 1.5m off the floor. The draw of moisture seems important,  but how delicate little newts clamber up thorny bramble is a mystery (carefully one imagines).

  The Smoothies were amateurs though, as a red earthworm species was also making a bid for the summit with several 2m from the base working steadily upwards. Several could be seen heading the opposite way down from the broken off top of the trunk some 5m up.  

The other observation of note was that despite Bittersweet being the only foldable leaf present the abundant newt population in one pond were not using it for egg-laying. It stinks so maybe that puts them off??