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.

A newt crawls along the bottom of a pond at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, Calif. on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Every year, the
A newt crawls along the bottom of a pond at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, Calif. on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. 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 little critters. The newts will be out in force through the end of March. To learn more about the newts, two remaining "newts explained" sessions are set with docents for 2-3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, and Monday, Feb. 18. (Kristopher Skinner/Staff)

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/.