Friday, 11 April 2014

On yer trike

Amphibians can turn up in some straange and bizarre places so keep your eyes peeled.
These Smooth Newts were found by a FARG member when he was doing some work at a friend's house. Rummaging around at the back of the garden he came across an old child's tricycle discarded in the undergrowth. 
The trike had a small basket on the back for carrying exotica like teddy-bears, dolls and the like but now a little water held these two beauties. They must have climbed up the vegetation to get in but the steep slippery sides meant they were trapped in there.
Thankfully they have been released and entered into the Record Pool.

So there you have it keep those records coming in.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Slow worm pictures

Lovely slow worm pictures from the new site Ray revisited at the weekend.

A couple of very healthy looking specimens, lets hope they're part of a large population.

The national Amphibian & Reptile Group (ARG UK) asks "could you all please keep an eye out for any shed grass snake skins? It's for a DNA study so a sample + grid ref/post code."
If you do find a shed skin either nationally or locally please let them know If you find one locally please let us know too.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A new Fylde slow worm site

On a trip to the supermarket our ace herpetologist Ray had a few minutes to spare followed a hunch and chose to have a look at a possible reptile site.
A good move as it happened as lifting the first piece of concrete there was a Slow Worm underneath. A this is good news as this is a new site for the species and Ray says it looks good for Common Lizards too.
There are records of the species to further to the east on the outskirts of Preston and there may be a record from an Environmental Impact Assessment a couple of miles to the west of this site but it isn't/hasn't yet been recorded on the National Biodiversity Network maps. Certainly scope for more  work along this stretch of habitat.
Ray's going to try to get some photos tomorrow so watch this space.

In other news Frogs are appearing in gardens across the Fylde with spawn being reported from ponds across the area - please report your sightings using the widget in the side bar. We probably have more knowledge about the rarer Great Crested Newt's distribution than the Frogs and Toads!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The season is starting

FARG had news today of an amphibian find during a greenhouse tidying spree by local naturalist Annie.
She moved a piece of wood to find an upside-down sleeping newt and a rather fat frog.
Here's a close up of it still fast asleep. The spotted chin shows it to be a Smooth Newt.
After being gently woken it was put back in a safe place to go back to sleep.

FARG member Pauline had a bit of interesting news last week when at a construction site a large number of hibernating newts when some old brickwork was moved. The final count was 11 Great Crested Newts and about 60 Smooth Newts. At a known Great Crested Newt site but our survey work would probably not find as many as this. It would be good to know how far they have traveled to hibernate together.

If you find any amphibians or reptiles in the Fylde please record them here
It's really easy

Who is going to be the first to tell us they have spawn in their garden pond?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Last lizards of the year

Local herpetological guru Ray was out on the dunes at St Annes last Saturday, possibly the last decent sunny day of the summer.
He walked along the pavement and found over 30 lizards basking on dry patches of sand, most of them juveniles which is good news. 
A few weeks ago he sent through some pics of his captive Sand Lizards which are being kept to provide youngsters for the various re-introduction schemes. Hopefully one of those will be our dunes.
Aren't they stunners!!!
In other news, a friend of FARG Alex spotted and photographed a nice Slow Worm in the 'usual place' just outside our recording area this weekend.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Sand lizard captive breeding report 2012

FARG member Ray has given the following report about his captive breeding colony from which he raises young animals for reintroduction schemes around the country.

By the end of October 2011 all six animals had gone down for hibernation, the older animals going down first, a couple re-appeared on warmer days but none were seen after 27th
The winter weather was generally mild and wet and started to warm up at the end of February. On 25th Feb the young male was out basking, he looked healthy but this was really too early, the temperature was 12 degrees in hazy sunshine. This was about 4 weeks earlier than expected, I assume the warm weather woke him up. The remaining animals started getting up from 25th March with the other older male a young female getting up first, all six animals were up by 2nd April. 
I had not seen the young male eat anything since he got up and was looking a little thin, the weather had been good up until this point but had now become cold and wet.  
By mid April all the animals were feeding apart from the young male, he was now very thin and I thought he would not last much longer, but by the end of April he started feeding and he soon put on his lost body weight.
By mid May all four females had been mated, but progress was very slow with the weather still being cold and wet.  
The weather was good for the last week of May and the 2 older females were showing egg bulges, however the 2 younger females were not showing any signs of being gravid. 
The weather returned to being cold and wet during June, I put the 2 older females in the outside egg laying compartment in the second week of June, the first laid on 18th, the second did not lay until 30th. I had to put additional light and heating in the outside compartment to move things along as the weather was so poor.
The 2 younger females again did not produce any eggs, I am sure as a consequence of the poor weather. Due to the delay in the first clutches being laid there was no chance of a second clutch. 
In total 15 eggs were laid, these hatched on 6th and 16th August.
These behaviours were similar to the animals in the vivariums at Penrith and Sheffield, the Penrith vivarium only producing 8 young.
These were all released at Ynyslas along with animals from Chester zoo, this release site is now complete.
The animals continued to feed when the weather allowed and their behaviour patterns leading up to hibernation were similar as in 2011, the older male went down at the end of August and all animals were down by mid/late October. Up to present we have continued to have very heavy rains hopefully this will not affect their hibernation.
The very poor summer we have had has also affected the animals on the Sefton dunes. Sightings of animals have been down on previous years especially on the inland sites and the emergence of hatchlings has not only been less than previous years but also very late, some sightings not being until mid October. This is likely to have a negative impact on population sizes in the years to come, only time will tell.