They are five more widespread native species of amphibian found within the UK; common frog, common toad, smooth newt, palmate newt and great crested newt. There are other more rare species such as the natterjack toad that is found in a small number of sites across the country and are strongly associated to coastal areas and sand dune ponds. The agile frog is only found in Jersey and the pool frog was long thought extinct in the UK and in recent years has been re-introduced to a site in East Anglia.
Of the more widely spread amphibian species the great crested newt is one that is afforded a higher level of legal protection and is often the key species to survey for a development scheme. As GCN require a network of ponds to breed consideration must also be given to off-site ponds and depending on the size of the scheme and quality of terrestrial habitat ponds within 500m may need to be assessed by the project ecologist.
If you have ponds within the development area then during the extended Phase I habitat survey an assessment of the pond will be undertaken. This assessment is a statistical test referred to as Habitat Suitability Indices (HSI) test that scores the ponds’ potential to support great crested newts. The HSI Assessment followed guidance published by the Amphibian and Reptile Groups (ARG) in 2010 and involves examining ten “Factors” which are subsequently calculated and given a Suitability Index (SI).
Should detailed presence/likely absence surveys be required then Corylus Ecology have experienced and licenced ecologists who can undertake the surveys and more information can be found under GCN surveys
The survey window between March and June with half of these surveys undertaken between mid-April and mid-May. So knowing that there are ponds within the site is important from an early stage of a scheme.
The surveys would need to follow guidance set out by Natural England survey guidelines which state that at least three of four survey methods should be used; torching, bottle trapping, egg searching and netting. The guidance state that a minimum of four surveys are undertaken with an additional two surveys if great crested newts are found to able to estimate a population size. The survey guidelines state that at least two of the four surveys must be undertaken between mid-April and mid-May. If great crested newts are recorded then three of the six surveys must be undertaken between these dates.