Saturday 31 March 2012: Eye of newt...
The weather today has turned and is cool, grey -much more appropriate for the end of March! I spent most of the day catching up with all the domestic duties I've been ignoring, and preparing for Chris's return from university.
I'd saved the dog-walk until after he arrived home, in case he wanted to come along, but after an evening celebrating the end of term, he wasn't feeling up to it! And in the end the dogs and I didn't feel like going either. So it was out into the garden to hunt for a blip.
I thought I might have to resort to another flower, but then I remembered that, a few days ago, I'd seen a smooth newt hibernating under a flagstone, so I went to see if it was still there. When I turned over the paving stone there were three adult female newts, and one juvenile no more than 2cm in length.
They were all very sluggish because of the cold, and I was able to get the macro lens very close to this individual, who didn't seem bothered at all. Once they'd been photographed I carefully replaced their stone, and hopefully they'll eventually emerge and take up residence in our ponds.
One of last nights experts said that it was rare to find frogs breeding in ponds with newts, but in our garden the two species have co-existed for many years, and have recently been joined by a thriving colony of toads.
Of course my photograph immediately brought to mind the witches spell from Macbeth, the first piece of Shakespeare that I memorised...
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."
Pete wondered if I might be heading for a series, but I think some of the ingredients might be a little difficult to come across!
PS For those who wondered about the newt training, it doesn't involving training newts to do tricks, but involves training surveyors to be confident in identifying and recording different species of newt!!