After a few failed attempts, I have finally seen a wild sand lizard ! I went out with a licensed volunteer to the established reintroduction site as part of my usual surveying and expected to see nothing, maybe a few common lizards, just like last time. Amazingly we were lucky enough to see a juvenile sandie and had really good views of it. Although no photos, I was too busy looking at the lizard to think about getting my phone out. Chuffed to bits. And it really is like the difference between a smooth newt and a great crested newt – once you’ve seen a crestie, you’ll never confuse the two.
The next day I was invited to come and help with the release of some captive bred juvenile sand lizards at the ongoing reintroduction site. Cue loads of pictures of cute baby lizards:
After dipping sand lizard multiple times last year, I thought I’d have another go, as I’d been invited out to join in with the surveying once again.
Aaaaaand – Nothing.
I’ve seen a fair few common lizard in Wales this year but once again, no sand lizards.
Apparently it has been rather a poor year for them, with the bad weather last year, but with the warm weather this summer we hope to see more next year. Personally, I’d be happy to see ONE !
Hopefully I’ll be back next year for another go…..
This 12 turbine scheme was consented in 2010 and is due to start construction this autumn. The developers West Coast Energy are preparing a Habitat Management Plan for the project which aims to improve the quality of habitats on site, particularly for breeding birds, and thus generate biodiversity benefits for the local area.
I was asked to contribute by providing an NVC survey of the site to inform the design of the Habitat Management Plan, ensuring it is targeted to the most promising areas.
This wasn’t as straightforward as you might think, as the topography of the site proved confusing, with numerous small ridges criscrossing all over the place. The first thing that comes to mind is a giant crinkle crisp (or maybe giants really do exist and ploughed the site way back when with giant farm machinery?). Every ridge seemed to have a different permutation of acid, semi-improved or improved grassland, and every hollow had a different soggy vegetation community, ranging from typical species-poor rush-pasture to blanket bog and swamp and everything in between! Add in different management on land managed by different people and you get a seriously complicated situation when it comes to vegetation types. Especially when you know NRW (formerly CCW) will be scrutinising your work. I spent a whole two weeks on site working up to 12 hours a day to get it all surveyed to the right level of detail.
During those two weeks, I experienced torrential rain, fog, freezing cold (in July!), windburn, sunburn, boiling heat, accidentally weeing in sight of a colleague watching for birds (sorry!), a random unannounced visit from the client/contractor team, being chased by hunting dogs, nearly losing my wellies in a swamp, falling over in a bog, being eaten alive by insects, exhaustion, I could go on. But it’s all worth it to be eyeballed by a surprised and curious lizard, to find a little flush with loads of butterwort in flower, or when I hear the curlews calling overhead. Being an ecologist can be hard work at times, but on a dry day it’s the best job in the world.
It’s all written up now and I look forward to finding out how the Habitat Management Plan will work to help biodiversity at the site.
I generally try to avoid any activity which involves being out of bed before 5am, but when it’s roasting hot, the best chance of seeing reptiles is earlier in the day… so Pete very kindly picked me up at 0545 and we set off for Llyn Brenig to meet our survey companions. The mission was to monitor the adder population at Cors Maen Llwyd, an area of blanket bog and heathland, to see whether the recent construction of a cycle track at the site had had any effect.
By the time we got to site at 7am, it was already warm, and by 8am it was, frankly, boiling. Had we left it too late? All we saw was one common lizard, spotted disappearing into a tussock by yours truly.
I have no doubt that the adders are still there; Mick pointed out that all the best bits of habitat had been retained and I have to say that the habitat quality at the site overall is really good. But we didn’t see a single one.
Must get up earlier next time !!!
Lucky me! I was allocated Moore Nature Reserve for my survey square in the 2013 National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme, or, to be exact, part of Moore Nature Reserve. For those of you who don’t know it, Moore Nature Reserve is one of Warrington’s premier nature watching sites and very popular indeed with birders as well as hosting educational trips for everyone from scouts to fungus experts. My surveys are now complete for the year and here are the results… Continue reading
During July and August, I surveyed eight sites in Sefton on behalf of Sefton Council – nice to be back working with my former employer !
The sites ranged from reedbed near Formby to extensive tracts of mature plantation woodland and neutral grassland. My favourite was the unexpectedly rich arable flora just round the corner from where I used to live in Crosby: Continue reading
I felt I needed a refresher on reptile surveying to complement my volunteer work in North Wales, so I travelled down to the Field Studies Centre at Juniper Hall, near Dorking, Surrey, to spend a full day with Jon Cranfield and Jim Foster, expert tutors in reptile surveying and mitigation.
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