There’s been newt better in my pond


After the driest September on record, October arrived with a splash. The weekend began with almost two days of incessant rain, which brought the rivers into full spate for the first time in months.

The salmon fishers will be relieved as it will allow the upstream passage of countless fish, which have been stranded in pools near the estuary, waiting for their chance to migrate upriver to spawn.

I had a walk up to the cauld at Selkirk, near where I live, on Saturday, but the river was far too high and powerful to see any fish jumping. This will be the first real test for the recently completed rebuilding of the weir and fish ladder, so it will be interesting to see how the fish take to it.

Just above the new Archimedes screws, which were installed to generate electricity by harnessing the drop in water levels between the top of the cauld and the bottom, sat a dipper on the steel pilings (pictured).

The Ettrick was too powerful for the screws to be switched on and the dipper, too, seemed at a loss as to how it was going to get its next meal in the raging brown waters.

A trio of goosanders seemed to know how to get the most out of the situation.

They were “white water rafting”, bobbing like corks down the fastest bit of the current in midstream, heading for Selkirk at a rate of knots.

I mentioned previously that I installed a small pond in my garden earlier in the year and that I was amazed at how soon aquatic creatures began to appear, with no help from me.

Already I have had things like water boatmen, several species of water beetle and pond snails, but the best thing of all turned up one evening last week.

When I let Treacle the dog out for her final airing of the day, I usually shine a torch into the pond to check on the toad which seems to be languishing in the same corner on a nightly basis.

Just below it, I noticed in a deeper section, something a bit like a curled leaf, with legs.

I gently touched it with a cane and immediately it swam for cover into the depths. It was my first newt! It is very difficult to try and establish things like that artificially, as the conditions have to be perfect, so I was highly delighted to have it confirmed that I must be doing something right in my efforts to encourage new wildlife into my garden.