Sunday, 19 April 2015

A weekend of Wildlife and a salutary tale.

Friday was an exciting day, I saw my first newt. This excitement became grounded as my own hubris was exposed. I was printing off worksheets in the work room when a teacher came in telling me I was needed in the courtyard as another teacher had found a newt. This is not odd, I am often called into deal with sick animals or those in stress. In the past 15 years at the school I have dealt with numerous birds, a rabbit and a hedgehog. I have even been called to check on corpses of Foxes and Grey Herons that have been found on the grounds.

I found the teacher in the car park with a gang of kids huddled round. At their feet was a newt. Carefully I bent and picked it up. It was remarkably lively and crawled gamely across my hands. The kids were fascinated and I took the time for each to take a look and explain why it wasn't a lizard even though it looked like one.

As more cars arrived we cleared the area and I decided to take the newt round to the school garden which had plenty of cover and a pond. I took a quick photo to confirm ID. It was a Smooth Newt but its orange underbelly made me cautious about it being the rarer Great Crested Newt. Nevertheless as I fumbled for my keys to open the gate the newt ran off my hand an plummeted to the tarmac. I quickly scooped it up and went inside. Now the newt was disturbingly still and I feared the worst. I laid it in the water and still it remained motionless. I moved it to a covered side of the pond and still it refused to move. I was terrified I had killed it by allowing it to run off my hand. I decided the best policy was to leave it in a safe place and check on it later.

I left the newt alone for an hour. In that hour the excitement of seeing my first newt had been crushed by the weight of what had happened and I found myself increasingly depressed. the newt had been left in my care and the kids had trusted me to look after it. My colleagues found it mildly amusing but saw the effect it had on me. Eventually I plucked up the courage to return to the garden and check. Barely hoping I opened the gate and found that the Newt had gone. I suspect he was only dazed by the fall and had decided that playing dead was a better option than running. My relief was palpable, I found it a telling lesson in not letting ones own excitement and needs get above those of the wildlife I profess to care so much about.

To continue this blog I thought I would add in some photos from the last couple of days. First of all a shot taken in the glorious sunshine on Saturday.



The next three photos were taken this morning. A second exciting sight was had when myself and my mother spotted a pair of Stoats tussling in the scrub. They were too quick to photograph however.

The first Lady's Smock of the season out in flower on my patch.


Harking back to the last post - A Chiffchaff the sound of spring.


And lastly a close up of the Robin that visits my feeding station.