North-East – Environment Agency staff were quick to respond when they discovered an endangered species of amphibian during routine works in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire.
A team from South Ferriby was carrying out maintenance work at Market Rasen Flood Storage Reservoir when they saw what they believed to be a newt - six feet down a manhole.
They called colleagues with expertise in fisheries and biodiversity who quickly arrived on site. The newt was rescued from the manhole using a pond net and it was confirmed that it was a great crested newt.
After checking other manholes and the surrounding area and confirming that the ‘pot holing' newt was the only one around, it was released into suitable, safe habitat close by.
Phil Smith, fisheries and biodiversity officer, said:
"Great crested newt numbers have fallen dramatically over the last century mainly as a result of a loss of ponds and intensive agriculture. They are now strictly protected and the Market Rasen Flood Storage Reservoir area has now been recorded as being home to these endangered amphibians.
"This discovery provides important information about the species' distribution and all future works on the site will be subject to approval by Natural England."
Great crested newts are the largest of the UK's three native species, which also include smooth and palmate newts. The great crested newt is significantly larger than the other two species and grows up to 15cm in length. It also has a much heavier looking body.
The newts are dark brown or black and have ‘warty' skin. Their underside is bright orange with irregular black blotches and males develop an impressive jagged crest along their back and a white 'flash' along the tail during the spring breeding season.
Their protected status makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure, capture or disturb them and to damage or destroy their habitat.
Anyone who finds a site with great crested newts should inform the Lincolnshire Biodiversity Partnership by phoning 01507 526667 or e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org