Sunday, 21 October 2012

This is The Daily Newts

Taking our two dogs out for their early morning constitutional is, in the great division of domestic labour, My Job.

Rain or shine, snow or storm, early shift, late shift or day off, I venture forth with Mido and Scamp for their first 'comfort break' of the day.

They then go back in their cages - their indoor sanctuaries, in the utility room - to dry off until breakfast, after which they have a proper, more lengthy walk (me if I'm home, her if I'm not).

Whenever we leave the house, Mido has a drink from the ever-present water bowl by the back (most used) door. He doesn't mind if the wind has blown a bit of detritus into it - after all, he is part Labrador and will happily quench his thirst from a muddy puddle if nothing else is available.

He doesn't even mind if he finds this:

He just ignores it/them and laps contentedly around them.

We do occasionally find other visitors to the water bowl - frogs from time to time, beetles of various sizes almost every day and, less welcome, the odd shrew. These presumably come for an innocent nocturnal drink, fall in and drown, leaving yours truly to fish out the corpse. I once found two.

I know I should - and intend to - rig up a ladder of some kind, to allow small creatures to escape while not impeding the serious business of canine thirst-quenching.

We have had one or two newts too, the common type with the bright orange bellies, which intrepidly make their way over to the house - quite some distance for a newt - from one of the nearby overgrown ditches and tiny streams.

However, we seem to be beset by a veritable plague of these delightful little amphibians at present. In the past week, I have come across one of them in the water bowl about five or six times.

I started just popping them into the nearest lush (aka overgrown) garden border, to find their way to a less hazardous location. Then I decided to carry one to the recently created shallow pond in our wet moorland field, which is about 200 yards away. He/she (among my many and varied talents, I can't claim to be an expert newt sexer) swam away happily and settled in the weeds.

This morning took the biscuit though. It being a 'day off' - i.e. not going to the office, as opposed to tackling the never-ending list of jobs to do at home - I was up at the crack of 7.30, which is a full two and a quarter hours later than if I am on an early shift.
It was a crisp, sunny autumn morning; the dogs were raring to 'go' and there, in the water bowl, were:

Mido blithely ignored them as usual and gulped down a few mouthfuls of water and on closer examination, the pair of visitors seemed to be an adult and a youngster (no s**t Sherlock!). The bigger one has a less pronounced orange stripe along its back and a much paler orange belly, with a few black spots scattered on it.

I carried them carefully to the pond and bid them farewell as they made themselves at home in rather more suitable accommodation than a shiny metal water bowl.

Look carefully and you'll spot them.

Better than a metal water bowl.

Hopefully, they should make it through whatever kind of a winter we have and add to the resident newt population next spring.