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Great crested newts on the move at Bempton

Last modified: 16 September 2014

Great crested newt

A total of 59 great crested newts were safely re-located to another part of the reserve.

Image: Roger Wilmshurst

An amazing array of cliff-top wildlife has been uncovered at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, during work to ensure a protected species is left undisturbed by upcoming development works.

Ahead of the visitor centre and car park being redeveloped, the East Yorkshire nature reserve enlisted the help of Driffield-based, Wold Ecology, to ensure a colony of great crested newts - a European protected species - could be safely trapped and re-located to another part of the reserve. During trapping, as well as 59 great crested newts, the monitoring team also uncovered over 800 common toads, around 10 common frogs along with a number of small mammals.

Keith Clarkson, Bempton Cliffs’ site manager, said: “Although our biggest attraction is undoubtedly the thousands of seabirds that make their home on the cliffs each year, it’s fabulous to uncover the range of other wildlife living on our reserve.

“As a conservation organisation, the RSPB protects more than birds: we care about the welfare of all wildlife. So it’s extremely important to us to ensure the great crested newts – and the other menagerie of wildlife we’ve uncovered – is well looked after during and after redevelopment.”

Great crested newts are Britain's largest newt species, reaching up to 17cm (7ins) in length.  Although they are protected by European law, their population has declined due to habitat destruction. At RSPB Bempton Cliffs, 950 metres of amphibian fencing was installed to create an area where newts could be caught safely before being re-released to another area of the site, a safe distance away from any upcoming construction work.

The development works, which are starting this month, are taking place thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  Bempton Cliffs was awarded £639,700 to revamp and improve its visitor offer to provide people with the opportunity of experiencing the UK’s largest and most accessible, mainland seabird colony.

The reserve and car park will be closed from 1 September 2014 to 1 March 2015, but public footpaths will remain accessible To keep updated on progress visit www.rspb.org.uk/bemptoncliffs, or follow RSPB North Yorks & East Riding on Facebook or @Bempton_cliffs on Twitter.

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