First report of Great Crested Newt deaths under the ice

Neither a hole in the ice or sweeping away the snow was enough to save Great Crested Newts in this pond in Shropshire

Sad news from Sally who reports the death of 5 Great Crested Newts under the ice at her home in Shropshire.

This is the first report we’ve had of Crested Newts suffering in the cold weather.

The deaths occurred in this case despite Sally keeping a hole open in the ice and, following the publication of our icy pond advice on 9th January, sweeping the snow away too.

But snow cover was prolonged here – 3 weeks – compared to just 10 days here in Abingdon.

Sally is not the only person to report mortalities in ponds in which holes are made – we’ve had many similar reports in the results coming back to us from the Big Pond Thaw survey.

As you will know I suspect these holes usually make little difference to oxygen levels in ponds, and probably don’t have much effect on toxic gases either – though as there are no measurements of toxic gases yet the jury is still out on this.

I don’t know why brushing away snow didn’t make any difference in this case – it may simply have been the length of time the pond was covered in snow though once again we’ve got very limited actual measurements on the effect of removing snow. On my old pond getting rid of the snow prompted a more or less immediate rise in oxygen levels – but maybe for Sally it was too late to make enough difference.

I’ll be returning to the issue of holes and what difference they make, in the next day or two – especially to answer the recent comment from Sarah who asks whether it was the oxygen levels that killed her frogs, and what the right thing is to do to try to prevent this.

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4 Responses to “First report of Great Crested Newt deaths under the ice”

  1. Sally Says:

    The more I think about our pond deaths, the more I blame it on the length and severity of the big freeze. I suspect our snow cover was more like 2 weeks than 3, despite what I initially put on the survey. We had also left a lot of vegetation in the pond as half of the plants are due to move into pond 3. At present this is only half dug but it has been designed as a wildlife pond, rather than the pond in the photo which is a formal rectangle with steep sides that the wildlife decided was fine anyway! We also have a small preformed pond with no obvious casualties but I haven’t disturbed it to check in case it puts any living frogs at the bottom of the pond at risk.
    I shall certainly start keeping daily records now!

  2. Sally Says:

    I discovered tonight that this story was in our local paper last night!

  3. Sally Says:

    I have just pulled more casualties from the pond, another 6 frogs and 4 newts.

  4. Great Crested Newts get some sympathy in the (local) news « The Garden Pond Blog Says:

    […] of sympathetic (if sad) coverage of crested newts getting into a local paper following the report here of Sally’s dead Great Crested Newts in her Shropshire […]

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