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HopGossip! Spring/Summer 2018

In this issue‌ Wildlife Crime Project Update Wild Britain New Stamps & How can I help amphibians and reptiles in my local patch?


Contents Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is a national wildlife charity committed to conserving amphibians and reptiles and the habitats on which they depend. Working in partnership with Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK

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Hop off the Press ARC News.

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In the Field Getting stuck in! Increasing the scale...

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In the Field Bare Ground.

Get in touch‌ Bournemouth - Head Office 655a Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 4AP Telephone 01202 391319 Email enquiries@arc-trust.org

www.arc-trust.org Patrons: Earl of Malmesbury Chris Packham Iolo Williams Chair of Trustees: Jonathan Webster Chief Executive Officer: Dr Tony Gent Conservation Director: Jim Foster

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Stamps Lizards and frogs feature on new stamps.

10 Feature How can I help amphibians and reptiles in my patch?

13 Fundraising Sponsor your favourite species. Remembering ARC in your will.

14 Wildlife Crime Wildlife Crime project update.

15 Scotland Great Crested Newt Detectives - Case closed!

16 South Wales Dragonscapes.

17 Media Wild Britain.

18 Species Profile

Administration & Finance Manager: Helen Wraight Western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata). Administration & Finance Officer (pt time): Martine Watkins 19 Tail Enders Administrative Support Officer: Angela Reynolds Summer reading. Amphibian Conservation Officer: Yvette Martin Connecting Dragons Project Development Officer: Peter Hill Connecting Dragons Project Development Officer: Mark Barber Cumbria Natterjack Officer (pt time): Ruth Popely If you would like to contribute to the Database & GIS Officer: Arne Loth next edition please contact Angela Data Protection Officer: Johnny Novy Reynolds at Dorset Field Officer: Richie Johnson angela.reynolds@arc-trust.org. Dorset Field Officer: James Anderson-Barr Dorset Field Officer/Health & Safety Officer: Richard Sharp Friendship & E-Communications Officer (pt time): Kim Boughey Great crested newt larvae Š Fundraiser (part time consultant): Atul Srivastava Chris Dresh (ARC). GCN Conservation Officer/Species Coordinator: Dorothy Driver Gems in the Dunes Project Manager: Fiona Sunners Hop Gossip is edited and Gems in the Dunes Project Officer: Andrew Hampson designed by Angela Reynolds. Jersey GIS Project Officer: Rob Ward New Forest Smooth Snake Survey Project Officer (pt time): Stuart Handyside Please note: the views North Wales Officer: Mandy Cartwright expressed in this newsletter are Reptile Conservation Officer: Nick Moulton not necessarily the views of Regional, Training & Science Programmes Manager: Dr John Wilkinson Amphibian & Reptile Senior Dorset Field Officer: Chris Dresh Conservation but those of the Senior Reserves Manager: Gary Powell authors. Snakes in the Heather Development Officer: Ben Limburn S. Midlands Newt Conservation Partnership Project Officer: Andrew Buxton Amphibian and Reptile Species Programme Manager: Dr Karen Haysom Conservation is a Registered Wealden Field Officer (pt time): John Gaughan Charity. Wealden Field Officer: Ralph Connolly England & Wales Charity Wealden Field Officer: Bryony Davison number. 1130188. Wealden Reserves Manager: Rob Free Scotland Charity number. SC044097. 2


From the Editor’s desk Welcome to the latest edition of Hop Gossip! After the bleak, cold and icy winter, followed by a late spring, our amphibians have had a very tough time. There were significant losses across the country during the Double Beast from the East. Early spawning efforts were thwarted and many froze in iced up ponds. Lots did make it though, and there are ponds full of tadpoles and newt eggs as I write! It is vital that we keep an eye on numbers and we ask that you let us know about what is happening in your pond through the Record Pool www.recordpool.org.uk. There are plenty of things you can do in your gardens and outdoor spaces to help all of our native herpetofauna. Our front and back gardens provide networks and wildlife corridors for all sorts of creatures, giving them habitat to not only thrive, but reproduce too. I have put together some ideas in the centre pages. If everyone adopts just one of them, it can make a huge difference. We are also relaunching our Summer Snakes campaign this year. We are already taking lots of phone calls and there are photos all over social media of snakes spotted whilst out and about. As well as letting us know about the amphibians you spot, we would urge you to tell us about the snakes you have seen. Now the sun is shining, it’s time to get outside and experience nature at its finest. I hope you enjoy the summer and making lots of new memories in the great outdoors! With best wishes,

Angela Reynolds Hop Gossip Editor angela.reynolds@arc-trust.org

C.E.O.’s Corner Dr Tony Gent Sometimes it is good just to get out in to the countryside – to look at the colours and breathe in the smells and not worry about whether those yellow flowers are primrose or cowslips, not try to separate a butterfly from a moth or debate whether the rattling from some distant thicket comes from a sedge or a reed warbler. The buzzing from insects and calls from birds tell of a natural urgency amongst the different organisms, all busily living their lives while themselves not knowing what we call them or why we call them what we do. But as humans, we are gifted with a deeper curiosity; the need to describe, to name and to catalogue and this helps us understand how nature works. This brings challenges around observation and identification from which life-long hobbies grow. Who knows how many people in the UK can be described as ‘bird watchers’ (depending, of course, on your definition, and whether this only includes the most obsessive, who exceed 500 species on their UK ‘life list’, those that submit records to recording schemes, those who belong to societies, or those who simply take pleasure in separating the blue tits from the great tits on the garden bird feeder). Though fewer, there’s still a healthy number of herpetologists – and likewise amongst their ranks are all shades of amphibian and reptile enthusiasts including the university academics and people fascinated by the frogs in their garden pond; people who, for whatever reason, consider reptiles and amphibians to be important in their lives. There is also another group of people, the conservationists, who often see the landscape in shades of good or bad – who judge whether nature is in a ‘favourable condition’ or conversely whether it is damaged and in need of some TLC. They celebrate populations of plants or animals when they are thriving and abundant and mourn the disappearance of a species that was once a key part of the ecosystem. Whether consciously or not, conservationists view the natural environment against a template of ‘what it should be like’ and, in turn, consider what needs to be done to achieve this. As I dashed out quickly during a small window of reasonable April weather this year to ARC’s nature reserve at Parley Common in Dorset, I wondered where I sat in this classification – whether I considered myself first and foremost a nature lover, a herpetologist or a conservationist. Parley is one of our larger reserves (just under 100 ha in size) and it was great just to enjoy the space around me and feel the sun on my back; but I also set out to see some reptiles, to record the different species (I managed five of the 6 native species in just under an hour), watch their behaviour and log their position with a GPS. As a conservationist, I also knew that the habitat wasn’t in a good condition just by chance – this is a rare habitat that has to be kept open through active control of invasive pine trees and by managing the gorse. I know why it is done and, as the CEO of the organisation managing the site, I also know this is costly to do. However I also know this important conservation work doesn’t happen everywhere else where it needs to. Whenever I’m outside, I can’t help scoring the habitats on a good-to-bad continuum and considering what needs to be done to make thing right for nature. At ARC, we are keen that people are informed about the conservation work that is going on, why it is going on and the consequences of it happening (or not happening). We are keen to promote a respect for and understanding of our reptiles and amphibians. However we are aware people are motivated by different things and recognise that exactly how and why different people choose to enjoy wildlife and the natural environment will be a matter of personal choice.

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What’s new with the ARC crew? By Angela Reynolds - Editor Earlier this year we said goodbye to Angie Julian, our Outreach and Communications Manager. Angie has decided to concentrate more on ARG UK in her role as Coordinator. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership. Sadly, the GCN Detectives Project has come to an end and Pete Minting has moved on to pastures new. You can read about what the project achieved on page 15. After a winter season with the Dorset Field Team, Stuart Handyside has taken on the role of New Forest Smooth Snake Survey Project Officer on a 7 month contract.

Reptiles in Rockingham Forest! By Jim Foster - Conservation Director ARC recently launched an initiative on adder conservation in Rockingham Forest in collaboration with Butterfly Conservation. Our adder work features in the “Roots of Rockingham” project, which Butterfly Conservation leads as part of the national “Back from the Brink” programme. For the next three years, we will be investigating the status of adders in Rockingham Forest, an area of great importance to the species in the East Midlands region. We kicked off with reptile survey workshops in April, and we’ll be following up with public engagement, landowner advice and production of guidance. For more information, please contact jim.foster@arc-trust.org.

Bryony Davison will be with us for another year as Weald Field Officer after spending a winter season with the Weald Field Team. Johnny Novy is our new Data Protection Officer employed on a 6 month contract. Johnny will ensure we are fully compliant in light of the new data regulations. Andrew Buxton has also joined the team as South Midlands Newt Conservation Partnership (SMNCP) Project Officer. Welcome to the team!

30 Days Wild! By Angela Reynolds - Editor

Adder © Chris Dresh.

Summer promotion of Corporate Supporters. By Atul Srivastava - Fundraiser

Each June, The Wildlife Trusts run a campaign called 30 Days Wild. The campaign is all about taking a little bit of time every day to do something a little bit wild, and find yourself feeling a little bit healthier, happier and wilder! During the campaign, ARC helped to support the Wildlife Trusts by encouraging folk to engage with nature every day, through our social media channels, with a herpetofauna related theme. You can find all of our suggestions on our website at https://www.arc-trust.org/30dayswild

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Pond Dipping © ARC.

Of course, you don’t have to stop in June, you can keep on going! We have a 3 page feature, in this edition of Hop Gossip, on how to make your garden amphibian and reptile friendly. Plenty to be getting on with! Give it a go! Go wild this summer and Enjoy!

© Atul Srivastava.

This summer ARC has booked outdoor advertising space for one month at the prominent Bournemouth International Centre, covering the period of the annual Air Festival (30th August - 2nd September). This event attracted 1.2 million visitors in 2017, making it an excellent opportunity for increasing awareness. Companies that join ARC’s Corporate Supporters scheme at Silver level or above can have their logo displayed alongside our own on the digital billboard. Details of our Corporate Supporter levels are at: www.arc-trust.org/corporate-supporters If you or someone you know works for a company that would like to increase its profile and enhance its reputation, please email: atul@arc-trust.org


Shedding light on torches! By John Wilkinson - Regional, Training & Science Programmes Manager A good torch used for night-time surveys of newts and other amphibians is an essential piece of survey equipment. But the ‘traditional’ 1 million candlepower torches are often heavy, cumbersome and have a limited battery life. Our volunteers have posed the question, couldn't more modern LED torches be just as good? ARC is currently working with torch manufacturer Cluson on a trial to try to answer this question. Cluson have kindly provided a variety of traditional and LED torches, and filters, which are being trialled during ARC training courses in spring 2018. After this we hope to be able to ‘shed some light’ on the question of traditional vs. LED torches and how best surveyors can get more bang for their buck with cheaper, lighter torch options. you can see the range of Cluson models on their website https://clulite.cluson.co.uk and SPECIAL OFFER! we'll publish the results of the trial soon! If you order by phone

or online, simply quote discount code ARC10 to receive 10% off your order!

Photo: Trainees on ARC's Warwickshire Survey Course in 2018, trialling Cluson torches for aquatic surveys. © Cluson Engineering.

ARC are delighted to announce that our ‘Connecting the Dragons’ project has been awarded National Lottery funding. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant will allow the project to bring together key partners including volunteer Amphibian and Reptile Groups, NGOs and local Wildlife Trusts, to protect and conserve some of our most vulnerable native species of amphibian and reptile including: great crested newts, adders, toads, and grass snakes. The grant will enable ARC to train volunteers to monitor and conserve priority species by improving their habitat across South Wales. Habitat creation to reconnect populations of these ‘at risk’ species, will be targeted towards key sites, as identified early in the project, based on habitat assessments and spatial modelling. The Development Phase of this inspirational new project will run from Spring 2018, and will focus on developing partnerships, and planning an exciting range of events and volunteer opportunities for the next stage of the bid to HLF. If successful, the project will then run for a further four years. Photo: Grass snake © Chris Dresh You can read the full story on our website https://tinyurl.com/yc5zumrh

Hop off the Press!

New Project: Connecting the Dragons By Mark Barber - Connecting Dragons Project Development Officer

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In the Field Getting stuck in! By Ralph Connolly - Weald Field Officer & Volunteer Coordinator What’s better than a group of happy, hardworking conservation volunteers carrying out habitat management for wildlife? Why, two groups of happy, hardworking conservation volunteers carrying out habitat management for wildlife! ARC obviously puts a huge amount of work into protecting and enhancing habitats for native amphibians and reptiles but if done sensitively, management for herpetofauna can also be to the benefit of a whole range of other species. For example, keeping lowland heathland sites open and sunny with areas of bare ground and scattered scrub, is great for invertebrates like Tiger beetles, Silver studded blue butterflies and Emperor moths as well as birds like Nightjar, Dartford Warbler and Tree Pipit. So far this year the ARC Weald volunteers have teamed up with Natural England, Waverley Council and Butterfly Conservation and will be working with the RSPB to carry out joint parties that will benefit wildlife as a whole across Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex. There’s a real sense of momentum that builds up with a big group of volunteers- it seems like you can achieve far more in one go, than the same number of people would, spread over a few days and it’s an excellent way for people to share knowledge and ideas and find out about the other conservation opportunities out there. Please contact me at ralph.connolly@arc-trust.org if you’d like to get involved with volunteering in the Weald (did I mention there’s cake? There’s also generally cake…)

In the Field

Photos - Top right: Emperor moth, Above left: Tiger beetles © Chris Dresh. Below: Conservation volunteers at the Christmas task in 2017 © Ralph Connolly.

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Increasing the scale... By Bryony Davison - Weald Field Officer On a heathland near Farnham, 21 juvenile sand lizards have recently made a break for freedom. A small group of ARC staff and volunteers, RSPB staff and a couple of reporters joined up to help the lizards on their way. As part of a captive breeding and reintroduction programme the lizards have been released onto a specially selected area to boost the existing population of the site. These animals have spent the winter months feeding and growing and are in perfect condition for their new lives out in the wilds of Surrey. This particular site was chosen for its favourable lowland heath habitat and more work has been carried out over the past year; putting in sandy scrapes, creating south facing banks and controlling bracken. The site had a successful release of sand lizards in 2013/14 and to help the population spread further it was decided to start another three year release programme in a different area. This very rare reptile needs all the help it can get and with protections put in place and effective management these animals can thrive. Continued monitoring will help us measure the success of the reintroduction and inform the future management of the area.

Photos - Above left: Hatchling sand lizards, Above right: Ralph Connolly and Bryony Davison with RSPB staff and the press, Below: Sand lizard (Š Mary Braddock, RSPB).

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In the Field Bare Ground By Richard Sharp - Dorset Field Officer & Volunteer Coordinator Some of you will know about the importance of bare ground in nature reserve management, especially in a heathland context where sand lizards need open ground to dig burrows in which to lay their eggs. Bare ground is also incredibly important for invertebrates like solitary wasps and bees plus many of our rarer plants and flowers. It runs contrary to the idea of nature reserve management to purposefully dig up the habitats you are trying to conserve, especially beautiful expanses of mature heathland or unploughed chalk downland. However, over time, the amount and quality of bare ground has reduced nationally and the species connected with it. ARC has for the past few years been at the forefront of halting this decline by intensively restoring bare ground on our reserves and supporting other organisations and land managers in their efforts. You may remember reading about it in last summers edition of Hop Gossip! Recently, ARC staff from both our Dorset and Weald offices went on a 2 day Bare Ground Workshop in Norfolk’s Breckland; organised and hosted by Rethink Nature, a group of 8 conservation NGO’s that have come together to support nature conservation on a national level. It was very informative to be in a very different heathland habitat; Breckland is dominated by very short rabbit grazed “grass” heath developed from the industrial scale medieval rabbit production of up to 30,000 animals a year! These rabbits produced a very short turf but also areas of scuffed and dug ground allowing a very diverse plant community to establish.

In the field

With myxamotosis and other rabbit diseases, numbers have dramatically fallen, leading to the need for human intervention to strip turf on a large scale as big as two hectares at a time. There were also talks on bare ground in wet areas like mires and bogs, possibly counter intuitive again but many of the rare plants in these communities need open areas and micro-topography to help seed germination. You only need to see how Sundews love to grow in wheel ruts to understand this, though it’s not a licence to drive everywhere on site!

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It was good to see how other organisations work and take the lessons we learnt for our own bare ground creation; like putting steps in to our sand scrapes to help butterflies and other invertebrates or to increase the size of sand patches to enable use by wood lark for feeding and breeding. Overall it was great to have confirmation of our approaches and to see that ARC are still very much at the forefront of this vital but underappreciated habitat. Photos - Above: Dorset volunteer Chris Wilkinson digging a sand patch, Left: Dorset volunteers sand tracing © Richard Sharp.


Stamps Lizards and frogs feature on new stamps By Jim Foster - Conservation Director In April, Royal Mail launched a set of stamps celebrating reintroduced species. Two of the six stamps feature species that ARC has led reintroductions for: pool frog and sand lizard. We were delighted to help Royal Mail with the stamp designs and associated information for these species. With many animals and plants suffering declines, well-planned reintroductions can help with recovery. As well as the pool frog and sand lizard, the stamps feature illustrations by award-winning artist Tanya Achilleos Lock, showing the osprey, beaver, large blue butterfly and stinking hawk's beard. These stamps highlight that conservation method can work. Yet reintroductions are complex and require a long-term commitment. A good example of the outcome of ARC’s endeavours is the status of the sand lizard in Wales, from where it went extinct in the 20th century. There are now several populations established through reintroductions, and the future looks bright for this species in an area where it had entirely disappeared. Likewise, Royal Mail were keen to feature the pool frog as it’s a species that had been lost from England, before being brought back through our work. ARC's work on reintroducing species could only have happened with the co-operation and support of a wide range of organisations and funders, including Natural Resources Wales, Natural England, Anglian Water, Forestry Commission, RSPB and Heritage Lottery Fund.

Stamps

Photo of stamps © Jim Foster

The release of these beautiful stamps helps to spread the word about how species matter, and how reintroductions can help. It was especially pleasing that the stamp launch received excellent media coverage. As well as the stamps themselves, Royal Mail has produced postcards and a presentation pack in which ARC patron, Chris Packham comments on the efforts of conservationists to reintroduce species to their respective habitats. You can order these from the Royal Mail website www.royalmail.com/reintroducedspeciesstamps.

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Feature How can I help amphibians and reptiles in my local patch? By Angela Reynolds - Editor As natural habitats have disappeared, gardens have become a vital haven for British wildlife. Any space, no matter how big or small, can be adapted to help all kinds of wildlife. We have put together a few ideas for things you can do in in your gardens, courtyards and allotments to help give a home and foraging sites to amphibians and reptiles. Amphibians need damp areas and ponds, reptiles require open spots where they can be warmed by the sun. However, both groups need cover and habitats that support their food - in most cases invertebrates.

Build a Compost Heap Placed in a sunny south facing position, compost heaps and bins make excellent reptile habitats, particularly for slow-worms. They are often found buried within, feeding on the slugs and ants. If you are very lucky, grass snakes sometimes use compost heaps to lay their eggs. The bottom of the heap keeps a good, constant temperature allowing incubation. Amphibians also use compost heaps to forage and hibernate in. The heap on the right has been built from logs and planks of wood. Wooden pallets are also good for this. The gaps allow the creatures to enter and exit easily. If you have a smaller space it can be scaled down or you can use a compost bin available to buy in most D.I.Y stores or gardening centres.

Compost heap © Richard Sharp. Stick pile © Angela Reynolds.

Small log pile © Angela Reynolds.

Create a Log Pile Placing logs and sticks in piles around your garden mimic the habitats provided by fallen trees and branches in woodland and provide excellent day time refuges for foraging amphibians.

Feature

As well as providing cover from the sun, dead wood attracts invertebrates on which amphibians and lizards can feed. Log piles can also provide common lizards with basking spots.

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Log pile © Chris Dresh.

Log pile © Chris Dresh.


Install a rockery

Photo left: A rockery next to a log pile and pond © Chris Dresh.

South facing rockeries help attract common lizards in to gardens and are also enjoyed by slow-worms. The rocks warm up in the sun providing a nice basking surface, and the nooks and crannies of various sizes between rocks, offer safe shelter if disturbed. Piles of bricks or rubble are also suitable although not quite as attractive.

Build a Hugel heap

Stage 1 illustration by Cutzero Designs.

Photo right: A pile of rocks © Chris Dresh.

A hugelkultur mound is a large pile of wood buried under layers of soil and humus…and why would you want to do that? Well, a hugel heap offers a number of benefits to growing plants and provides habitat for a host of wildlife. First dig a shallow pit the size that you want it to be. If you can, situate your hugel bed so that it runs from east to west. This will mean that the bed will have a south facing side for sun-loving plant species and a north-facing side for shade tolerant species and edible fungi. Pile up chunky organic material; for example – logs and buttress roots and form into a mound.

Add a good thick layer of less bulky organic material such as brash, then cover (with the upside -down turf) and top soil from the original trench.

Stage 2 illustration by Cutzero Designs.

Hugel mound © John Wilkinson.

Grow a mixture of edibles such as fruit bushes, vegetables and wildflowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects to increase your yields. If possible, site your mound beside a pond. Amphibians will breed in the pond and shelter or even hibernate in the hugel mound and help manage pest levels. Light reflected from the pond surface and the pondside humidity combine to increase your growing season. For more information please see our booklet ‘Gardening with nature for people and wildlife’ on the website https://www.arc-trust.org/community-gardens.

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Wild Corners and refuges Photo left: A wild corner of the garden © Richard Sharp.

Leaving wild corners in your garden is great for all wildlife. A mix of different heights of vegetation provide cover and is also attractive to invertebrates. A mini meadow of wild flowers and grasses is ideal. To get a closer look at reptiles in your garden, you could consider putting a ‘refuge’ down. Flat objects such as roofing felt, corrugated iron or slate roof tiles, when placed on the ground in sunny spots and next to suitable cover, warm up in the sun. Slow worms love to get underneath them.

Photo right: A corrugated iron ’refuge’ © Richard Sharp.

Build a wildlife pond A pond is the perfect addition to your garden - amphibians will be attracted to spawn and grass snakes may visit to hunt. It is also great for insects. Who doesn’t love watching a dragonfly dancing around a pond on a sunny day?! Here are some tips for building your own:

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Photos above: ARC Patron Chris Packham observing a garden pond © John Buckley & Garden pond © Chris Dresh.

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Choose a sunny position, away from overhanging trees and shrubs. Include a shallow area around the pond to ensure your amphibians can get in and out. Make sure you have a section at least 60cms deep. This will reduce the risk of the pond completely freezing up in icy spells for any amphibians choosing to sit out winter at the bottom. Avoid completely surrounding the pond with paving slabs as emerging froglets and toadlets can stick to them and die in hot weather. If you do, make sure there are plants right up to the edges to create cool damp areas. You should fill your pond up using rain water (from a water butt) however, you can use tap water if you let it stand for at least 24 hours first. Always make sure you choose native aquatic plants and a selection of floating, submerged and marginal plants. We recommend speaking to an aquatics plant specialist. It wouldn’t hurt to make a ramp in a shallow area for any mammals that might visit to rehydrate, such as hedgehogs.

Short on space? You may not have lots of space for a pond in your garden or outside area, but even a small pond can support a wide range of creatures. Alternatives include a mini pond or bog garden. A bog garden is made by laying a plastic liner below the soil and then topped with gravel and a mix of soil and compost to retain moisture. It is then planted up with moisture loving plants such as marsh marigold. For more information on ponds and pond safety, please read our Dragons in your Garden leaflet https://www.arc-trust.org/dragons-in-your-garden


Fundraising Sponsor Your Favourite Species By Atul Srivastava - Fundraiser Whether it’s the sand lizard, pool frog or smooth snake, supporters of ARC now have the option of directing their donations to particular species of amphibians and reptiles. Over the coming months we will be launching donation pages for other species native to the UK. In April 2018 Royal Mail launched a set of stamps celebrating reintroduced species (see page 9). Two of the six stamps feature species that ARC has led reintroductions for, and we were delighted to help Royal Mail with the sand lizard and pool frog stamp designs and associated information. Sand lizard © Chris Dresh.

Pool frog froglets © ARC.

For smooth snakes, ARC needs to secure match funding to help our stage 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a major project, ‘Snakes in the Heather’. Your support can make a real difference to the fortunes of these species. For further information please visit the sponsorship page for the species you’re interested in sponsoring, either for yourself or as gift sponsorship!

Pool frogs: www.arc-trust.org/sponsor-pool-frogs Sand lizards: www.arc-trust.org/sponsor-sand-lizards Smooth snakes: www.arc-trust.org/sponsor-smooth-snakes

Smooth snake © Chris Dresh.

Remembering ARC in your Will By Atul Srivastava - Fundraiser

If you already have a Will and wish to leave a gift to ARC, this is a simple process and can be done by writing a codicil. We recommend you speak to your solicitor before making or updating your Will. These days many families decide to honour the life of a lost loved one by suggesting donations in lieu of giving flowers. These gifts are a special gesture that help to further a cause close to the family or loved one.

© Chris Dresh.

For further details please see: www.arc-trust.org/legacies

Fundraising

Leaving a legacy gift will enable the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust to continue its work to protect amphibians and reptiles for generations to come. A gift to us helps achieve our vision of a world where amphibians and reptiles are safeguarded, as well as the habitats on which they depend.

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Wildlife Crime Wildlife Crime Project Update By Pete Charleston - Bat Conservation Trust In 2017 ARC and the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) joined forces in the “Bearing Witness for Wildlife” project. By using Pete’s experience we are well placed to record allegations of crime involving amphibians and reptiles, and to liaise with Police wildlife crime officers offering both legislative and investigative advice. During the 2017/2018 financial year we recorded 15 allegations of crime that were reported to the Police. Species involved included great crested newt (10), slow-worm (2), common lizard (2), grass snake (1) and natterjack toad (1). Clearly some allegations involved more than one species of interest, whilst other allegations also made mention of species such as bats. Eleven different Police forces were asked to investigate these allegations. We have had contact with the investigating officer in every case reported. Seven investigations have been concluded with no further police action being taken except the provision of advice. The value of the Police providing such preventative advice cannot be over-estimated. A further seven cases remain under investigation. At this stage it seems possible that a small number of criminal prosecutions might ensue. The expertise of ARC staff has been invaluable; Police officers have undertaken site visits with species experts who have provided advice on conservation impact and evidence gathering. It is important that when cases do get to court there is information available that allows for informed sentencing. To that end a conservation impact statement for great crested newts has been developed and used in cases that have been forwarded by the Police to the Crown Prosecution Service. Figures for crimes involving other species suggest that there are many more cases that we don’t get to hear about. If you have reason to believe that crimes against amphibians or reptiles are or have been committed please contact me at pcharleston@bats.org.uk or ARC.

Wildlife Crime

Photos - Above: Common lizard © Ben Limburn, Below: Great crested newt © Chris Dresh.

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Scotland Great Crested Newt Detectives - Case closed! By Dr Pete Minting - Great Crested Newt Detectives Officer The Great Crested Newt Detectives project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Hugh Fraser Foundation completed in May. This unique Scotland-wide project contained three main elements. Firstly, sampling of pond water by adult volunteers, to test for the presence of great crested newt DNA. Secondly, free educational sessions for schools about Scotland's amphibians and reptiles and thirdly, creation of a book and online resource, called "Amazing animals, brilliant science!" which shows how DNA technology is being used to help save Scotland's wildlife. Training events were held for volunteers across Scotland in order to take part in Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling, the new method of testing pond water for great crested newt DNA. One advantage of this method is that, in contrast to many other survey methods, a protected species licence is not required and it proved to be very popular with volunteers in Scotland.

We provided a final event for the Great Crested Newt Detective volunteers and other members of the public called "DNA technology and the conservation of Scottish wildlife." Leading experts gave some fascinating talks on a diverse range of topics and the use of DNA technology to detect wildlife crime. The educational aspects of the project also proved productive. Sessions featured videos and games, a presentation about amphibians and reptiles, life cycles and inheritance and took place at 17 primary schools with nearly 700 pupils participating. We also held a wildlife art and writing competition for children aged 8-18 across Scotland, which more than 500 children entered! We held an awards day for the competition winners in Edinburgh in October 2017 (see Hop Gossip! Autumn/Winter 2017).

Scotland

Interesting discoveries include a number of 'new' great crested newt breeding sites in southern Scotland and also one in the north. Once discovered by eDNA sampling or other methods, great crested newts and their habitat are legally protected. The final eDNA survey report results and a habitat suitability map for great crested newts in Scotland is nearly complete and all of the records collected as part of this project will be available to the public, via www.recordpool.org.uk and the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas.

Many of the best entries from the competition and details provided by the wildlife experts from the volunteer event have now been used to produce a new book, called "Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science; how DNA technology is being used to help save Scotland's wildlife." Written by Project Officer Pete Minting, this stunning book is now available as a free PDF on our website and will shortly be available to purchase from our online shop. Photos - Top right: eDNA sampling, Above left: School children playing ‘Newt Snap’ © Pete Minting.

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South Wales Dragonscapes By Angela Reynolds - Editor In March this year, Our Dragonscapes project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund came to an end. This hugely successful project exceeded our expectations with a much higher engagement than originally planned. Throughout the project ARC has striven to work with new people, groups and organisations; especially targeting many hard to reach individuals and groups, likely to benefit from the opportunity to take part in a range of activities to benefit nature and themselves. Project successes included lots of habitat restoration and creation, across 50 sites in total, to benefit amphibians and reptiles. Not only did this mean the creation of many new ponds, it also meant that existing ponds across South Wales could be restored. Reptiles have also been seeing the benefits as a result of the terrestrial habitat work. Training and workshops were held throughout the project and delivered to both Governmental and nonGovernmental groups. The sessions ranged from species identification, survey, wildlife workshops, habitat management and specialist training for key volunteers. Wildlife Trusts, Natural Resources Wales, a number of schools, volunteer groups and community groups; such as Roots Foundation Wales, Valleys Kids, Unity in Diversity and Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group, all benefited. The introduction of Hugelkulture, an ecological growing method, proved to be very popular. A number of workshops were held to encourage wildlife friendly food growing sites in local communities. This involves making a soil and humus mound over a pile of logs to grow food and flowers, whilst providing habitat for all kinds of wildlife, including amphibians. (Please refer to the centre pages to find out how to create one of your own).

South Wales

An amazing total of 53 National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) survey squares have been set up meaning regular records will be coming in to help inform how well amphibians and reptiles are faring across Wales.

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All in all, 448 people directly participated in the project, each taking away new skills and knowledge to continue in the pursuit of creating and maintaining ‘Dragonscapes’ well in to the future. Photos - Top right: Training workshop with volunteers, Below: Llynfi planting crew © Mark Barber.


Media Wild Britain By Pete Hill - Connecting Dragons Project Development Officer The first half of an exciting and ambitious new wildlife series was recently transmitted on UK television, and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation were pleased to have assisted with the filming of some of the herpetological aspects of the series. Wild Britain is both beautifully filmed and expertly edited and explores the rich diversity of habitats and species, both the familiar and the less well known, that occur throughout the British Isles. The eight episode series was produced by Plimsoll Productions who enlisted me, life-long sand lizard aficionado, both on the coastal dunes of the Sefton coast and North Wales. Sand lizards were filmed at both locations and the coastal episode was televised back in the early spring of 2018. As well as assisting with the “Coastal” episode, I guided the camera crew at a Southern heathland site, where ARC have successfully reintroduced sand lizards, and thanks to some of my colleagues in Surrey, smooth snakes were also filmed for the “Countryside” episode. Viewing figures were between 800,000 and a million - which is pretty good, but because the series clashed with the last 15 minutes of Celebrity Bake Off, and was on rather late for a family show, Channel 5 have informed us that they are going to reschedule the final 4 programmes (Islands, Water Worlds, Countryside and Cities) for a better viewing slot. Sorry for the delay, but we will let you know when they are on!

Media

Photos - Above right: Pete with sand lizard, Below: Filming in the dunes © Pete Hill.

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Species Profile Western Green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) Non-native Males © Chris Dresh

Appearance/Colour  Bulky lizard, much larger than our native lizards.  Males have a bright vivid green body peppered with black spots.  Mature males develop blue cheeks during the breeding season.  Females are typically smaller and less vivid with a narrower head.  Some females have distinct cream/ brown stripes along the back and flank although this is not always the case.  Hatchlings are pale brown with a pale green throat and display dorsal stripes.  Pale yellow or white underside.

Behaviour  Hibernate from October through to March in Hatchling © Chris Gleed-Owen underground burrows.  Emerge from hibernation late March in to April.  Breeding takes place in late April and throughout May where the males compete aggressively for females.  Bask in deep vegetation.  Egg laying takes place in June and July. Up to 20 eggs are buried in open sand or vegetation in loose clutches.  Eggs hatch from August through to September.

Juvenile © Chris Gleed-Owen

Species Profile

Female © Chris Dresh

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Female © Chris Gleed-Owen

Habitat/Where to find them  Native to Jersey.  Introduced to Guernsey.  Non-native introduced population has been established on cliff tops in Bournemouth.  Escapees have been reported elsewhere in the UK, but no other breeding colonies have been confirmed to date.  Found in the dunes and coastal heathland in Jersey.  Found on steep south facing heathland cliffs and scrubby grass of the Bournemouth coast. Male © John Wilkinson


Tail-Enders Summer reading TAIL-ENDERS

Why not settle down this summer in the sunshine and get stuck in to a good book? Here are a couple to get you started!

Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science; how DNA technology is being used to help save Scotland's wildlife Author: Pete Minting ISBN: 978-0-9566717-2-1 This stunning new book is one of the main outputs of our Great Crested Newt Detectives project in Scotland. It includes a general introduction about DNA and how scientists use DNA technology to answer a huge variety of questions. During the Great Crested Newt Detectives project, we used environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling to discover great crested newt populations in Scotland and ensure that they are protected in future. The book features examples of how wildlife in Scotland is being helped or studied today, using DNA technology. These include many of Scotland's best known species, such as wildcats, golden eagles and pine martens. It also includes up-to-date information on progress with the reintroduction of the beaver, which was extinct in Scotland for approximately 400 years. Children from across Scotland have helped to create this colourful book, with wonderful paintings, drawings and writing entries which were submitted to the Amazing Animals, Brilliant Science competition in 2017. You can purchase a copy from the shop on the ARC website for just £12.00 (including postage). It can also be downloaded as a PDF here https://www.arc-trust.org/news/ aabs-book-launch

Author: Evelyn Wood ISBN: 978-0-9934145-6-5 Keen to satisfy the inquisitive child, and on a quest to provide answers to all of the many questions children want to know, this interesting and informative book gives children an introduction to frogs of all shapes and sizes, and covers a vast selection of topics such as reproduction, internal organs and facts and myths.

Tail-Enders

Exploring with Too Woo A frog’s life

The aim of Evelyn's books is to give children an easy way to understand the reasons why we use Latin and Greek terminology when referring to the natural world. This sets it apart from many other children's books and is well worth a read. A frog’s life is available to buy online from sites such as Amazon and retails at £7.45.

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Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is a national wildlife charity striving for a world where amphibians and reptiles are safeguarded for future generations. With over 25 years experience in the wildlife sector we are committed to the conservation of frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards and the habitats on which they depend.

To find out more or to support Amphibian and Reptile Conservation contact: Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 655A Christchurch Road Boscombe Bournemouth Dorset BH1 4AP Tel: 01202 391319 Fax: 01202 392785 Email: enquiries@arc-trust.org

www.arc-trust.org Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/ARC_bytes Find us on Facebook - www.facebook.com/ARCTrust Watch videos on YouTube - www.youtube.com/ARCTrust

Become a Friend! Join Amphibian and Reptile Conservation today and help us give a voice to the UK’s amphibians and reptiles - saving species, improving habitats and enhancing lives in the process. It costs as little as £24 a year.

Join online: www.arc-trust.org/support Or call 01202 391319 (9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday - Friday)

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is a Registered Charity: England & Wales number 1130188. Scotland number SC044097.

Profile for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Hopgossip! Spring/Summer 2018  

Hopgossip! Spring/Summer 2018  

Profile for arc-trust
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