A spring ritual is under way at the University of California Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive in Berkeley, where newts have returned for the mating season. Every year, the newts return to mate in the same pools and ponds where they were born, and the garden's Japanese pond offers crystal clear water that gives visitors a clear, up-close view of the colorful amphibians. The newts will be out in force through the end of March, and special "newts explained" docent sessions are set for 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 and 18. Details are online at botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu.
See our slideshow of staff photos by Kristopher Skinner at http://photos.mercurynews.com/2013/02/13/newts-return-to-uc-botanical-garden-for-mating-season/.