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Great Crested Newts in Yorkshire and the Humber: Filling the Gaps

Client: Yorkshire and Humber Ecological Data Network
Duration: March - July 2011
Areas of survey: Waterbodies around Hull, Doncaster, Sheffield and Leeds
Project manager: Sylvia Jay
Team: Project manager, two trainers, 27 trained and mentored volunteers
Outputs: Recruited and trained 27 volunteers; HSI and amphibian survey of 48 ponds

With Gordon Haycock and Sylvia Jay's long experience in amphibian ecology and survey, in delivering ecological training and in managing volunteers, Haycock and Jay Associates were invited to design and run a project to train volunteers and support them in conducting amphibian surveys of ponds in key parts of the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Great Crested Newt mentoring

Twenty-seven capable graduate ecologists and the like were recruited via CJS and our local contacts. All attended a full day training session covering amphibian identification, survey and recording, HSI assessment, welfare and bio-security, legislation and health and safety. During the practical sessions great crested newts were surveyed using netting, torching and bottle trapping methods.

The volunteers were organised into eight survey teams of between two and five, and each team was accompanied by Sylvia on its first survey, where she provided further on-site training and mentoring. She was available for guidance during subsequent surveys and attended the final survey for each team, to gauge each surveyor's level of confidence and competence in all survey methods.

The project was a success, with eight survey teams surveying 49 ponds over the season. Four of the surveyors were taken on by Haycock and Jay Associates to conduct commercial great crested newt surveys.

Effective training, support and communication in managing this project resulted in a highly motivated and competent group of volunteers, who all approached their role with a professional attitude.