#Project365; Day 241. Palmate Newt.
I was surprised to encounter this tiny little chap on the boardwalk at Thursley NNR; from a distance I thought it was a tiny lizard. When I got up close to him, I noticed the very frog-like eyes and feet, and realised I was looking at a newt. I’ve seen lots of newts in the water of the mire at Thursley during breeding season (one of the reasons why dogs should be kept on the lead on the boardwalks!), but never on the boardwalk itself, which is usually the lizards’ hangout. This one is a palmate newt, slightly less common than the smooth newt, and adapted to thrive in shallow, acidic pools. Perfectly suited to Thursley, then, where the boardwalk snakes through rare wet heathland habitat – acidic, wet mire with lots of shallow pools and damp bogs.
During spring and early summer, newts are in their breeding colours and spend most of their time in the water; the males look quite spectacular with their fiery bellies and raised crests. Like frogs and toads, though, once the breeding season is over they are mainly terrestrial. At that point, their colours are more subdued, and the clear difference between the sexes isn’t so apparent. I’m not sure whether this one is a lad or lass, but the colours are beautiful anyway. 🙂