After a couple of weeks struck down with the dreaded flu, it was great to get out and about again today.
I am hoping to start a grazing experiment over at Quilters Wood. The site is split into several paddocks and it should be possible to investigate the impact of sheep grazing on reptile populations. This year will be a control year where data on reptile numbers and distribution is collected in the absence of grazing. Grazing will be reintroduced to the site next year where its impacts will be investigated. In order to realise this project we need as much help as possible at this important Kent site. If you feel that you are able to help collect data (even a couple of visits a year would help), then do please get in touch and I will provide full details of the project.
In order to kick things off at Quilters, I visited the site earlier today with Brett Lewis. While repositioning the tins and felt previously distributed across the site, we saw 2 adult adder and 6 slow-worms.
Following our successful visit to Quilters, we felt the weather conditions were so good that we should make the most of it. As part of the 'adders in decline' project, I have identified a number of sites that have historical observations of adder and/or anecdotal accounts that need following up. One such site is located near Howlett's Zoo. Following a good search of suitable habitat we did not see any adder. However, Brett spotted three grass snakes. I thought that I was quite skilled getting close enough to this fellow for a nice head shot. That is until Brett pointed out, the snake only had one eye!
Another 'adders in decline' site is located at Winterbourne Quarry. A sign at the quarry (now removed) suggests that adder were once present. How much reliance can be placed on these 'Beware of...' signs is questionable, but habitat conditions within the quarry appear favourable. Unfortunately a visit to Winterbourne this afternoon failed to reveal any adder. However, I did spot an adult male viviparous lizard which represents a new site record.
If you didn't realise it from the above, then I'll also point out that the first reptile survey day of the year also produced all 4 of the widespread reptiles! Not too shabby!!!