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Amphibians and Reptiles

by Michael Thompson

Besides my own records, and they are few, I have only received records from three other individuals. The first frog appeared in our pond on the 6th March, but, between 16th and 24th; over 100 pairs had spawned. Spawning was recorded at Sykes Intake on 6th March and at Gilling by 16th March. In previous years what started as successful spawning has ended in disaster, with hardly any tadpoles metamorphosing into young froglets. It was usually due to late heavy frosts. 2002 was different for by mid-June many small frogs were migrating out of our pond. It seems that each pond has its own cycles of success, for in 2001, in the ponds around Gilling, numerous young frogs were recorded, with a repeat performance by 20th July 2002. Adult frogs were recorded at Potter House Farm on 11th June, Sykes House on 26th July, as well as in the gardens in Slingsby.

Numerous toad records were received from gardens around Kirkbymoorside between 6th June and 12th October, either adults or the year’s young. In August young toads were caught, 3 or 4 at a time, between 20th and 24th August, suggesting it had been a successful breeding season for toads around Kirkbymoorside. Two young toads were found north of Slingsby on 7th July, presumably having travelled some distance from their pond of origin.  Toads are basically woodland amphibians, so it was interesting to find numerous young toads in woodlands on the Castle Howard Estate near Welburn on 27th July at a Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union VC62 outing. The woods in question are outside the recording area of the Society. By mid-October, most toads are in hibernation, but a large dead female was found on the road north of Slingsby on 1st.November.

Every year the number of smooth newts in our pond seems to increase, whatever the climatic or water conditions are like.  They seem to be a most hardy and successful amphibian, that breeds every year and produces numerous young. The first males arrived in the pond on 25th March, the females arriving soon after. The reception class at Slingsby village school were netting both sexes in our pond on 24th April, along with a large water beetle Dytiscus marginalis, whose larvae predates on the frog and newt tadpoles. By 12th September young fully metamorphosed smooth newts were found in the garden. A pond in Pickering, due to be in filled for housing development, was examined for great crested newts by Martin Hammond and the recorder in August. The pond was grossly overgrown with encroaching matted grass, below which only smooth newt tadpoles were found.

The only reptile records were from Sykes Intake on the edge of the North York Moors, when one slow-worm was found under a stone in March and two more in September.

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