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Posted by W von Papineäu on December 24, 2002 at 09:15:34:
THE SCOTSMAN (Edinburgh, UK) 24 December 02 Rare Resident at Historic Property (Ian Marland)
A rare and discerning visitor has taken up residence at one of Scotland’s more unusual historic properties.
Great-crested newts have been found at The Pineapple, Dunmore Park, seven miles east of Stirling.
The National Trust for Scotland property has proved ideal habitat for one of the UK’s most protected amphibians.
Conservationists found signs that the creatures were breeding during recent checks of ponds.
Built in 1761, the fruit-shaped building is one of the more bizarre structures in the Trust’s care.
Trust nature conservation adviser Lindsay Mackinlay said the discovery was a great surprise.
“Suspicions were raised when our head gardener David Perry discovered an adult female great crested newt whilst digging out one of the flowerbeds,” she said.
“We were not aware of any other sightings of this animal in the area, so we asked Lothian Amphibian and Reptile Group members if they’d like to have a look at our pond – where they discovered the eggs.”
The species and its habitat are fully protected by law.
It is an offence to disturb ponds or remove newts without a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.
Petroleum giant BP at Grangemouth is working with the Trust to conserve the newts.
BP spokesman Neil Weir said: “We aim to be a good neighbour to the communities on our doorstep and this work fits perfectly with two key themes of our community strategy – environment and education.”
Great-crested newts are found at only a handful of sites in Scotland.
Measuring up to 15cm in length, the species is the UK’s largest, with its distinctive jagged crest along its back.