Thanks to an alert from John Arnold, I was able to rescue 50 baby – almost certainly Smooth (and not Palmate) – newts from the pond in the Danson Park Old English Garden yesterday (Sept 18th). I have looked for adults here previously, but never seen any. This would appear to be a new site record. Over the course of last summer several people took turns at rescuing Froglets, but there were no Frog tadpoles this year, and Toads (a Biodiversity action Plan species in decline) were seen mating in the pond a few years ago.
Unfortunately, the overhanging edge slabs prevent these animals from getting out, which is necessary for them to go and find food and winter hibernation sites. Friends of the Shuttle had gone some way towards making an exit ramp of large rocks, but this has either been interfered with or was for some other reason below the water line and too far below the rim. A solution might be to remove some of the slabs and bevel back the edges at these points, since the newly-metamorphosed ‘babies’ can to some extent climb the zinc(?)-lined part of the vertical sides through suction when wet, though this won’t help any much heavier adults.
In any event, there needs to be a permanent physical fix so that the pond becomes a net contributor to amphibian populations in the park, to which it is well-suited on account of being free of any fish which would eat frog and newt tadpoles, or it will continue to be a death trap and a net drain as both post-breeding adults and their young fail to escape and drown trying, or starve first.