Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Monday, 20 April 2015

Dragons among us...

The sun certainly got things moving a bit this weekend but activity was tempered by a very cold breeze which made finding things quite hard work. Nevertheless there were four 'firsts for the year' on offer in the form of Smooth Newt Lissotriton vulgaris, Palmate Newt Lissotriton helveticus, Slow Worm Anguis fragilis and Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis. Palmate newt was new for the garden and a great surprise.

Palmate Newt, male: R. Harris
Doesn't show on this photo but the tail has a fine
filament and the black webbed hind feet can just be made out.
Smooth Newt, male: R. Harris
Smooth Newt, male: R. Harris
Good to see some reptiles too. Out of the wind it felt very warm at times and it's always nice to see slow worms:
Slow Worm Anguis fragilis: R. Harris
My favourite without a doubt though are the Dorset Sand Lizards Lacerta agilis. At this time of the year they are in their magnificent breeding colours and the males are quite spectacular. Cool, sunny mornings will find them basking in sheltered spots in suitable habitat from which they are usually quite reluctant to move, making them much easier to observe and photograph than their common cousins. Unfortunately this reluctance to run for cover also makes them susceptible to unscrupulous collectors as well. One of their biggest threats (other than heath fires) comes from the danger posed by careless footfalls along sandy heathland tracks - their preferred egg laying sites. Man made sand strips are helping to address this issue but mortality rates are currently higher than they should be - there's a positive correlation between the number of lizard eggs destroyed and the number of walkers, mountain bikers, horse riders and photographers now using their habitat for recreational purposes.

Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis, male: Dave Helliar
Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis, male: Dave Helliar
Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis, male: Dave Helliar
Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis, male: R. Harris
Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis, male: R. Harris
Good numbers of these out enjoying the sunshine now too:
Green Tiger Beetle: D. Helliar
Green Tiger Beetle: R. Harris
More about reptiles can be found on my reptile page.

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