Reptile Survey continues with new and exciting finds!
The DVLP reptile survey and monitoring project has continued to be a great success since the programme kick-started back in March this year. As we approach some of the most active months for reptiles the sightings have continued to increase, with a recent influx of Common Lizard sightings.
(6 Common Lizards basking on a wooden post put out by John on an ex-colliery site in the Barnsley area, John Newton 2016)
Despite the name ‘common’, the species has suffered a decline in recent years due to a number of factors, and due to its elusive and speedy habits can be hard to encounter. However, survey and observation is made much easier when you have the skills and expertise of a Local and European reptile expert by your side. John Newton has been working closely with DVLP community officer Roseanna Burton. Roseanna is responsible for leading the environmental strand of the landscape partnership.
The first few months of survey saw good numbers of grass snakes, including a total of 23 individuals around one pond in-particular in a two hour period. Over the last couple of months the shift has very much moved to lizards, in the hope of finding slow worm (a legless lizard). No slow worms to date, but the survey group had their first sighting of a common lizard . With further survey effort, including the placing of a number of wooden sticks, to act as ‘sunbeds’ for basking individuals, the sightings increased on a daily basis, with a good day of sunshine, including a total of up to 15+ individuals.
The success continued as we surveyed at another ex-colliery site in the Doncaster area of the Dearne. The site previously had no records of common lizard , but with an understanding of the species group, some time and effort from John and the survey volunteers, the site revealed some incredible finds. Including a total of over 20+ individuals, including a good number of pregnant females on a site they were thought to be absent.
(Above two separate pregnant females, one at a Doncaster site below and one at a Barnsley site above. You can clearly see the female below has recently been predated on and has dropped and regrown her tail, she looks as if she could be expecting a total of 10 babies in the next few weeks, John Newton 2016)
As well as lizards we are still encountering grass snakes, including a number of juveniles from last years off spring, under a number of the artificial cover objects (AC0) the volunteers have put down to maximise survey effort .
(Juvenile grass snake basking under an ACO)
To date the project has facilitated the survey of 8 new sites, along with 50 plus visits, and has helped to train new individual’s from the local community in reptile survey and ID. All these records will substantially help with the future protection of such rare and misunderstood species.
If you have any records, sightings or photos of reptiles in the Dearne Valley, we’d love to hear from you, you can send your data to DVLP@barnsley.gov.uk
Locations in the Dearne
This event can be found at the following locations:
Elsecar Heritage Centre
The Elsecar Heritage Centre is a family attraction located in the village of Elsecar, South Yorkshire.
Wombwell Wood, Wombwell
Wombwell Wood is an ancient semi-natural broadleaf woodland located in the Wobwell, South Yorkshire.
Hemingfield Colliery is the site of a now disused coal mine which has been re-purposed since its closure.