There may be another explanation for the appearance of great crested newts in improbable places (NCE last week). About 10 years ago I was involved in a large derelict land reclamation scheme in Merthyr Tydfil. I had to clear newts from several small ponds formed in collapsed bell pits.
To our and our consultant scientists' surprise, a significant proportion of the newts captured were of the great crested variety. The scientists told us that the environment of the Merthyr site, being over 300m above sea level and in the dank clays and silts of the Lower Coal Measures, was not one associated with this variety of newt.
Could it be that the great crested newt is not as uncommon as is usually thought? If more was known about the actual numbers of these so called rare species, fewer civil engineering projects would be held up because of thier expected presence.
Paul Wright (F), PaulEWright@compuserve.com