Amphibians

From June through to early August the wetlands are teaming with Common Frogs and Toads, the latter slightly larger and with a more warty skin. The sheer abundance of Frog and Toad spawn might at first sight appear excessive but only a tiny percentage will survive through to become adults. Predation of spawn is a natural process and benefits many predators with their own young to feed. Large scale predation of abundant species is essential in order to maintain an ecological equilibrium and keep food chains stable. One such predator of Frog and Toad spawn is also one of the UK’s most protected species, The Great Crested Newt.

The Great Crested Newt is Britain’s most strictly protected amphibian and like many other British animals has declined dramatically in the later part of the 20th Century (Froglife 2001). Fortunately, Watchtree Nature Reserve provides ideal habitat for this species; clusters of small and medium sized water bodies without predatory fish species; closely grouped ponds allowing movement between water bodies; abundant marginal and floating vegetation for egg laying; rough ground for foraging; refuges for adults and suitable terrestrial habitat for over wintering.
The constructed wetlands at the southern end of the reserve were only created in 2003 but by 2006 Great Crested Newts had already colonised and began to breed.