HopGossip! Spring/Summer 2019 In this issueâ€Ś Silver Studded Success! Wild about garden ponds Thanks a billion to Stephen Green! & Paulâ€™s new lizard lounge
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
Get in touch… Bournemouth - Head Office 744 Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset BH7 6BZ
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In the Field
Silver Studded Success! Pale Dog Violet.
In the Field
Family history of Hankley Common. Improved home for reptiles on track at Burley railway. ARC Volunteers in the spotlight.
Wild about garden ponds. Building a garden pond.
12 Bearing Witness for Wildlife Newt court case.
Telephone 01202 391319 Email email@example.com
14 South Wales
Patrons: Earl of Malmesbury Chris Packham Iolo Williams Lucy Cooke Chair of Trustees: Jonathan Webster Chief Executive Officer: Dr Tony Gent Conservation Director: Jim Foster
Stephen Green - Running for ARC. Seven Degrees of ARC. Newt-tastic teamwork!
15 North Wales
Funding for North East Wales.
16 Partnerships Santa Cruise.
17 Captive breeding Paul’s new lizard lounge.
18 Species Profile Administration & Finance Manager: Helen Wraight Adder (Vipera berus). Administration & Finance Officer (pt time): Martine Watkins 19 Tail Enders Administrative Support Officer: Angela Reynolds Make an edible pond! Amphibian Conservation Officer: Yvette Martin . Amphibian Husbandry Officer: Alice Pawlik Communications & Outreach Manager: Martin O’Neill Cumbria Natterjack Officer (pt time): Ruth Popely Database & GIS Officer: Dr Rob Ward IT Project Officer: Johnny Novy If you would like to contribute to the Dorset Field Officer: Richie Johnson next edition please contact Angela Dorset Field Officer: James Anderson-Barr Reynolds at Dorset Field Officer/Health & Safety Officer: Richard Sharp firstname.lastname@example.org. Dorset Field Officer: William Emmett-Mair Friendship & E-Communications Officer (pt time): Kim Boughey Cover photo: Witley Common © Fundraising Coordinator (part time consultant): Atul Srivastava Gillian Pullinger. 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. North Wales Officer: Mandy Cartwright Reptile Conservation Officer: Nick Moulton Please note: the views Regional, Training & Science Programmes Manager: Dr John Wilkinson expressed in this newsletter are Senior Dorset Field Officer: Chris Dresh not necessarily the views of Senior Reserves Manager: Gary Powell Amphibian & Reptile S. Midlands Newt Conservation Partnership Project Officer: Andrew Buxton Conservation but those of the South Wales Officer: Peter Hill South Wales Officer: Mark Barber authors. Species Programme Manager: Dr Karen Haysom Wealden Field Officer (pt time): John Gaughan Amphibian and Reptile Wealden Field Officer: Ralph Connolly Conservation is a Registered Wealden Field Officer: Bryony Davison Charity. Wealden Reserves Manager: Rob Free England & Wales Charity Snakes in the Heather Officer: TBA number. 1130188. Snakes in the Heather Officer TBA Scotland Charity number. SC044097. 2
From the Editor’s desk Welcome to the latest edition of Hop Gossip! It’s all go here at ARC Headquarters! At the end of July we will be relocating our Head Office to a property just down the road. After residing at our current HQ for more than 20 years, it has been all hands on deck for the past few months sorting, organising and recycling the many treasures and memories collected through time. I for one am feeling quite sentimental about leaving 655A. For the last 11 years it has been my home-from-home and my cosy little corner of the office will be greatly missed. I feel like I know every inch of this building with its ancient pipes, crumbly bits, cracks in the walls and doors falling off hinges! It has certainly tested our DIY skills over the years! If these four walls could talk they could tell some stories and have been witness to many tears, tantrums, successes and celebrations! The move to a new HQ will signify the start of a new era, a new open plan, clutter-free upgraded working environment. It is able to accommodate many more field and out-posted staff and visitors and also includes more meeting spaces. We will all benefit from improved internal communications and upgraded software - getting to grips with it all has been mind-blowing! Whilst a lot of my time this year has been spent preparing for the move, my colleagues have been involved in some great things. I hope you enjoy reading about them. Our feature is all about ponds. If you don’t have a pond already, why not give it a go this summer? Then celebrate with an edible version - the recipe can be found on page 19. We would love to see your photos of them. Have a wonderful summer and if you see any amphibians and reptiles please let us know by recording it on the Record Pool www.recordpool.org.uk With best wishes,
C.E.O.’s Corner Dr Tony Gent
It would be easy to think, looking at the political world today, that there is very little meaningful discussion around the environment. Media coverage would suggest that current political leadership has other things on its mind. There is, however, growing recognition about the problems caused by plastics in the environment and climate change, and the declaration by some of the devolved Governments in the UK of a ‘Climate Emergency’. Raised public awareness, through television programmes such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, increased environmental activism (Extinction Rebellion) and increased incidence of ‘eco-anxiety’ (a recognised chronic concern over environmental issues), is ensuring that the environment is very much on the public’s, and therefore needs to be on the politicians’, minds. A little digging shows a raft of Government-level activity and political momentum across the UK towards improving the environment and not only around ‘carbon emissions’ and waste reduction; we have seen positive messages coming from the highest levels of Government about conserving biodiversity. Arguably, we are at a moment of real opportunity. Biodiversity is being identified as a contributor to people’s health and well-being; new plans, including the ’25 year environment plan’ in England are looking long-term and developing new concepts such as Nature Recovery Networks and achieving Net Gain for biodiversity through planning. There are proposals for new legislation and agri-environment funding schemes with greater environmental benefits. The concept of “rewilding” is gaining ground. Discussions around new global targets are being developed for the international Convention on Biological Diversity. But what does that mean for wildlife and for the conservation of reptiles and amphibians? We need to see more habitat, better managed and better connected – with measures that really do benefit the conservation of our native species, to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases and non-native species. Perhaps the appointment of politicians as Species Champions across England, Scotland and Wales will drive momentum. Will the Governmental agencies be given the capability and capacity to do this and will there be adequate funding or support for the wider environmental NonGovernmental (NGO) sector to make the difference that is needed? ARC, especially as part of various coalitions of NGOs, will be looking to take advantage of the opportunities – both to maintain pressure and to help provide solutions. There is a saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I think it’s fair to say, it’s time to start fixing it now.
Angela Reynolds Hop Gossip Editor email@example.com
ARC is migrating! By Angela Reynolds - Editor From Monday 29 July 2019, ARC HQ is relocating. After more than 20 years at our Head Office at 655A Christchurch Road in Boscombe, we are moving just a few hundred metres down the road to 744. The move coincides with the 30th and 10th anniversaries respectively of The Herpetological Conservation Trust, formed in 1989, which later spawned Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust in 2009. The £600,000 cost of the move includes the purchase of the building and refurbishment. It is being funded from investment resulting from a generous legacy and the move is expected to pay for itself within a few years. Dr Tony Gent, ARC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Like several of our species, we need to migrate. I am pleased to say we are not moving too far from our home territory. The move means we stop paying rent and own our building for the first time. The property is an investment and an asset as well as a much-improved base for our staff, Trustees, volunteers and visitors.”
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Linking species to landscape is bestfit for Jersey conservation By Martin O’Neill - Communications & Outreach Manager
Protecting wooded valleys, extending the National Park and improving wildlife ‘corridors’ are key to the future of conservation on the island of Jersey. That is the recommendation of a new report by ARC’s Dr Rob Ward and Dr John Wilkinson.
Ssssnakes in the Heather: Ssssuccess! By Dr John Wilkinson - Regional, Training and Science Programmes Manager Following a lengthy and complex process, that began way back in 2016 with a short Expression of Interest to the (then) Heritage Lottery Fund and a Development Phase of over a year, we were delighted to hear at the end of May 2019 that our Snakes in the Heather (SitH) project is being funded for four years by what is now the National Lottery Heritage Fund. SitH, which was developed by ARC’s Ben Limburn and John Wilkinson, with input from a whole host of other ARC and partner staff, will employ two project officers to create the first national smooth snake monitoring and evidence-based conservation scheme. Through coordinated data collection and recording of this flagship species, delivery of this project will see widespread improvements to the physical state of heathlands across the south of England, benefitting other reptiles and a whole host of other biodiversity. In turn, the project creates an unprecedented opportunity for partnership working so as to achieve significant gains in public engagement in our natural heritage. We will reach out to audiences who do not traditionally engage, offering opportunities for training, hands-on activity through our extensive Citizen Science Programme, volunteering with habitat enhancement work parties and participation through community events and other engagement activities.
Research for the report used a novel landscapescale approach to consider the needs of wildlife as a whole. Models were developed to predict the most suitable habitat areas for 17 species or groups including amphibians, reptiles, mammals, insects, plants and fungi. This approach identified biodiversity ‘hotspots’ in the west and south-west of the island. Some 37.5% of Jersey was shown to have high suitability for wildlife yet only 9.8% of the areas were within SSIs and 33.4% within the Jersey National Park. The Jersey Multi-Species Habitat Suitability and Connectivity Modelling Report is accessible via the Jersey government website: https://www.gov.je/ Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx? ReportID=4111. Photo top right: Jersey green lizard © John Wilkinson.
Photo: Smooth snakes © Chris Dresh.
In Memoriam: Dr Liz Howe By Jim Foster - Conservation Director Dr Liz Howe passed away on 31 March 2019, aged 59. Highly respected in nature conservation circles, Liz was the herpetologist for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and its predecessor the Countryside Council for Wales. Before her government agency work, Liz completed a PhD on lizards and worked on tortoise conservation in Madagascar. Liz’s achievements were many and varied, and extended well beyond herps. For instance, she led a project to map vegetation types across Wales, a huge undertaking that provided vital baseline habitat information. ARC enjoyed a long association with Liz. One might say that Liz created a model for how statutory agencies can work productively with conservation charities. Perhaps most noticeably, it is largely thanks to her dedication that we were able to reintroduce sand lizards and natterjack toads to Wales. Yet the joint work we did with Liz goes way beyond such achievements. Over the last couple of years, for example, we worked with Liz on an update to the national guidance for selecting protected sites, aiming to help conserve the best herpetofauna populations. Liz worked tirelessly for nature. Together with colleagues she worked on politically sensitive cases seeking to protect important habitats from damage, often involving great crested newts, and often succeeding. A pleasure to work with, Liz was invariably in good humour and determined to help despite the latest organisational budget cut or re-structure. She was pragmatic and generous with her time and knowledge. She will be deeply missed by all at ARC, and beyond.
Photo top right: Liz with ARC’s Pete Hill.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has published two important reports by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. ARC undertook an analysis of the current status of the great crested newt (GCN) in Wales including a review of the sources of information and data management methods needed to properly assess the status of this strictly protected species. The report recommends how future surveillance efforts and data management would benefit from a more structured framework. In the second report an ARC team assessed the status of the sand lizard at Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve in North Wales. The report makes recommendations for future remobilisation works to ensure species like the sand lizard are properly considered and proposes management methods for this species in sand dunes.
Litter - It’s rubbish for herps! By Angela Reynolds - Editor Our in-house field staff have seen an increase in our native herpetofauna becoming trapped, or losing their lives, to rubbish left behind in the places they call home. Reports include three common lizards, trapped and rescued, in a wine bottle in the dunes in South Wales, a sand lizard saved from a discarded beer can on the Sefton coast and the sand lizard pictured below in Surrey. A second lizard sadly wasn’t so lucky. Jim Foster, ARC’s Conservation Director, said: “Litter in the countryside is bad news for all of our wildlife but it can prove fatal for amphibians and reptiles. Discarded bottles and cans especially can be a death-trap for small animals. We urge everyone to take their rubbish home and dispose of it safely.” © ARC
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New great crested newt and sand lizard reports published By Martin O’Neill - Communications & Outreach Manager
5 Photo: GCN © Chris Dresh.
In the Field Silver Studded Success! By Arthur Greenwood - Local butterfly enthusiast Broxhead Common MOD training area is near Bordon in East Hampshire. It has become a haven for the endangered SilverStudded Blue butterflies thanks to the active site management which has proved to be very much to their benefit. Broxhead is a heathland site partially managed by ARC for reptile species and partly managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. This colony of Silver-Studded Blue butterflies was in 2018 the strongest colony in East Hampshire. Indeed, it is now one of the strongest colonies in the country. This is a red data list species, amongst the most threatened of British butterflies. The population on Broxhead has really boomed in recent years thanks to the heather and scrub management. There is now a mosaic of Bell Heather plants from fresh regrowth right through established old plants. There is ‘wavy line’ mowing across the colony area which provides good butterfly corridors. During the peak of their flight season, the ground is almost shimmering with blue butterflies. This is an amazing wildlife spectacle! The Silver-Studded Blue has a very interesting life cycle. The butterflies lay their eggs at the base of emerging heather plants. The caterpillar hatches out and feeds on the heather. It also develops a symbiotic relationship with black ants. The caterpillar secretes honeydew from a gland on its back which feeds the ants and in return, the ants protect the caterpillar. The caterpillar pupates either on the ground or within the ants’ nest. When it hatches into a butterfly, it crawls to the top of the mature heather plants and pumps up its wings in the sunshine. It is normally still attended by ants until it takes flight.
In the Field
Only the males of the species are blue, the females are brown, similar to a Brown Argus (but with fewer red spots on the wing). The average life of the butterfly is estimated at only 3-5 days although it can live for longer. It definitely has breeding on its mind during this time. The males emerge first and get very excited when a newly hatched female is found.
It is an extremely sedentary species, often not moving more than a few metres from where it emerged. It is also very low-flying so will not normally fly over any natural barriers. The result of this is that it is very site-bound and unlikely to naturally colonise any new heathland sites. Lowland heaths are extremely vulnerable to attack from colonising species such as birch, gorse and scots pine which can quickly infiltrate a site and rapidly shade out and ultimately destroy the heather. On Broxhead Common, the main colony is to the east of the busy A325. There is also another smaller colony nearby on the adjacent Broxhead Common Local Nature Reserve which is managed by Hampshire County Council. The diversity of the flora of the site is mostly limited to heathers (Bell Heather and Ling). Because of this, it does not attract many other butterfly species. Indeed, outside the SilverStudded Blue season (June and the first half of July), it is unusual to see many other species. It is interesting to note that there is more plant variety around adjacent car parking spaces, due to ‘fertilisation’ of the ground by dog walkers’ pets. The success of the site demonstrates how a balance can be reached between management for nature improvement and management for military purposes. Also how management for
reptiles can benefit other species. The Longmoor Conservation Group is an important interface between the MOD and people interested in wildlife on their land. I have been monitoring butterflies on a transect at Broxhead Common for the last five years. SilverStudded Blue numbers have soared with the continual habitat improvement. In 2018, the peak number seen in one visit was 466. With continued active management by ARC and the HIOWWT, numbers will hopefully continue to grow for many years to come.
Photos: Page 6 top right and bottom left Silver studded blue butterflies © Chris Dresh (ARC). page 7 top left: Broxhead Common Guided walk attendees looking for butterflies © Ralph Connolly (ARC).
Pale Dog Violet By Chris Dresh - Senior Dorset Field Officer My usual trawling through the internet wildlife groups on Facebook lead me to stop on a post from the Back from the Brink Dorset Team. It related to some burning management they had taken out on a heathland site in the Purbecks to aid a small plant, the pale dog violet (Viola lactea). Pale dog violet favours a humid heath habitat and relies on open areas of bare ground with some disturbance of the ground to germinate. It is now mostly confined to the south coastal regions of the UK. Classified as ‘Vulnerable’ in The Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain 2005, due to the magnitude of the decline in its range and area of occupation, it is a Nationally Scarce Species. The following day, myself and a colleague visited an ARC site in the Purbecks to carry on with our annual bare ground creation work. Whilst on site, I decided to check on the amount of gorse re-growth in an area we had removed a large quantity of very dense old gorse by tractor and flail mower during the winter of 2017. Almost instantly on arrival to the area, POW! A pale dog violet!! Then another and another... Carefully walking around the total area, they seemed to be spread across it. Not being anywhere near an expert on flora, I gave our local Back from the Brink Officer Sophie Lake a call. We met on site the following day and confirmed that pale dog violet, along with some hybrids from early dog violet, were present. A whole new colony for the area! More information can be found about pale dog violet at: https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/our-work/ publications/pale-dog-violet-factsheet and https://naturebftb.co.uk/the-projects/dorsetsheathland-heart/ 7
In the Field
Family history of Hankley Common By Martin O’Neill - Communications & Outreach Manager Many of ARC’s field staff enjoy a great affinity with the landscapes they look after but Weald Reserves Manager Rob Free has a closer relationship than most. When Rob was overseeing the expansion of our Hankley Common interests near Elstead in Surrey, he revealed a fascinating family connection. Rob provided some excellent photographs of work at the Common but also a striking old black and white image. It shows his grandfather, Edward Free, of the 3rd Dragoon Guards on horseback at Hankley Common taken around 1914. Now that’s what you call a family connection with the landscape! Edward was 6’5” and could handle a horse: he delivered bottled mineral water door-to-door using a horse and cart so he was an ideal recruit for the mounted infantry. As well as being an exceptional place for wildlife, home to all of the UK’s native reptiles, Hankley has been a military training area since before the First World War. It is still used for troop exercises and visitors are warned that they may need to follow direction from military personnel. From 2019 ARC took on management of an extra 240 hectares of this important heathland site for the Ministry of Defence, increasing the size of the reserve four and half times. ARC and its forerunners have been involved at Hankley since the late 1960s when smooth snakes were reintroduced. A formal management licence was granted in 1974 over 69 hectares of lowland heath covering many of the best areas for smooth snakes and sand lizards.
In the field
The Hankley sand lizards are of particular significance as they formed one of just four remaining native Weald race sand lizard populations during the 1970s’ low-point for the species in the UK. Captive breeding by ARC from animals originally captured under licence at Hankley has helped turn this situation around. Today sand lizards can be found on over 30 sites in the Weald of Surrey, Hampshire, West Sussex and Kent.
Photo top right: Edward Free, 3rd Surrey Dragoon Guards, c.1914 Hankley Common. Bottom: Hankley Common © Rob Free (ARC)
In the Field Improved home for reptiles on track at Burley railway By Martin O’Neill - Communications & Outreach Manager An old railway embankment at Burley in the New Forest is being transformed from a scrub dominated slope into a des-res for reptiles and invertebrates. The location is part of the New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the managed area is notable for its wildlife which includes all six native species of reptiles and rare invertebrates such as Hymenoptera - sawflies, wasps, bees and ants. A whole team of ARC staff and volunteers continued scrub and tree management in January 2019 to improve the site’s conservation status. The team included; New Forest Smooth Snake Survey volunteers and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Amphibian and Reptile Group volunteers along with their Chairman Paul Edgar from Natural England. This followed initial work during March 2018 by the Forestry Commission, New Forest National Park staff and volunteers, the New Forest Study Group and support staff and students from Brockenhurst College to manage scrub and create bare ground to improve the condition of the SSSI. ‘Sand scrapes’ around 15m x 2m have been created for invertebrate and sand lizard egg-laying areas. A further 300m x 10m area along the old railway embankment has been managed for trees and scrub. In total around 50 days’ work have helped to improve the quality of the location for wildlife and join up previously fragmented areas. Nick Moulton, ARC’s Rare Reptile Conservation Officer, said: “We hope to continue to work with the Forestry Commission and other colleagues to continue scrub and tree management during the winter of 2019-2020 and restore this SSSI to a favourable condition for its important wildlife.” Photo above: The old railway embankment after work © Nick Moulton (ARC)
ARC Volunteers in the Spotlight A new regular feature looking at some of the volunteers who make invaluable contributions to ARC.
Gillian Pullinger Started volunteering with ARC: October 2015 Favourite site: Crooksbury Common A regular Wealden Tuesday volunteer on practical work days, come rain or shine, Gill is also our surveyor and photographer extraordinaire. Gill submits more herp records from our reserves than anyone and many of the shots you’ll see of heathland sites in the Weald, species we find there and volunteers hard at work will have come via Gill’s lens. Gill also helps with our fixed point photography monitoring, taking shots from set locations onsite twice a year to record habitat changes and inform our site management. The front cover image of this issue of Hop Gossip was taken by Gill.
Feature Wild about garden ponds By Martin O’Neill - Communications & Outreach Manager Building a pond is a great way to attract all sorts of wildlife to your garden, especially all our native amphibian species, dragonflies and invertebrates. Frogs, toads and newts can turn up in a variety of ponds but common frogs and smooth newts will be the most likely visitors. The number of ponds in the UK countryside is estimated to have declined by over a third in the last century and garden ponds can help to compensate for this loss. They have enormous value for wildlife in urban areas and provide stepping stones for a variety of other species such as birds, bats, hedgehogs and grass snakes. A pond need not be big. Any size will be beneficial to wildlife even if it does not attract amphibians. Small ‘washing-up tub’ ponds and bog gardens may help amphibians that are trying to keep cool in the summer. A garden pond at least 2m x 2m is ideal to provide an attractive breeding site for frogs. For any pond design the most important factor is to create gently sloping sides and add plenty of native vegetation so that the animals can enter and leave the water easily. A deeper section in the middle of the pond – at least 60cm – will ensure the pond does not completely freeze in the winter and any amphibian lying dormant on the bottom will be safe in icy weather. Amphibians can breathe through their skin and, providing there is sufficient oxygen in the water, they can survive for long periods beneath ice.
Select a mixture of native plants to suit amphibians which are available from good garden centres. These may include spearwort, water mint, frogbit, shallow-water-emergent amphibious bistort and brooklime. Plants like water forget-me-not and starwort provide egg -laying sites for newts. Submerged plants such as curled pondweed and hornwort are good too. Choose species that will oxygenate the water. Non-native plants can be invasive in small garden ponds, spreading to other areas. Popular plants such as yellow flag iris, white and yellow water lilies and bulrushes grow vigorously and can easily swamp small ponds.
The best time to carry out work on a pond is in the autumn – September or October – when there will be fewest amphibians to disturb. Froglets will have left and adult frogs will not be returning to lie dormant over the winter just yet. Occasionally tadpoles or newt larvae will spend the winter in the pond rather than developing and leaving in the summer so sweep with a net to check. If you do need to work on your pond before autumn make sure you consider the pond’s inhabitants: keep them in a tank or bucket out of the way while you work.
Photo top right: Smooth newts © Chris Dresh. Photo bottom left: Common frog © Chris Dresh.
Building a garden pond By Richard Sharp - Dorset Field & Health & Safety Officer Just by following some simple steps, you could have a thriving wildlife pond in just a couple of days. Having dug my own over February half term with my boys, I can say that it was easily accomplished in 3 days. Just remember that you will have lots of spoil to find a home for!
Dig a small trench on the outside of your line about the size of a trowel blade; this will be to secure your liner.
You can then dig out your pond, leaving a narrow baulk under the marked line; think about varying the depth down to about 75cm and leave the shallowest (20cm or less) on the southern side. Then remove the turf from your baulk, making the sure the level is the same all round.
Once you are happy with the profiles of your pond you can think about lining; first remove all the obvious stones, glass, nails, pottery and bricks that are buried beneath an average garden. Use old towels, sacks, sand or anything else soft and strong to underlay your liner.
I was lucky to have a second-hand liner in good order; but this is the point you may have to think about the volume of your pond and go buy a liner! Best to position your liner and half fill so that it gets a bit taut, you can then secure with soil in the little trench and cut your liner to size. Now you can re-turf the edge, plant up or edge with stone and fill to the top. Rain water is best but tap water will be fine once it has sat in the pond for a while. Once full, itâ€™s time to plant up. It is best to do some research here, aquatic plants can easily get out of control. You will want a mixture of emergent (in the water) and taller edge plants. A local plant centre with a good reputation should be able to advise.
All photos ÂŠ Richard Sharp.
Bearing Witness for Wildlife Newt court case By Jim Foster - Conservation Director Late last year saw a rare case of wildlife law enforcement in action, as a Hampshire man pleaded guilty to damaging great crested newt habitat. ARC’s Conservation Director, Jim Foster, assisted police with the investigation. Whilst the great crested newt is Britain’s most strictly protected amphibian, very few cases reach the courts. Indeed we are aware of only around a dozen cases since 1994, when the strictest laws came into force. On 4 December 2018, Colonel John De Benham-Crosswell, from Bordon, Hampshire, pleaded guilty at Basingstoke Magistrates Court to one charge of damaging a great crested newt resting place, contrary to the Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2010. The offence was committed when earth was moved and dumped in the vicinity of a pond at Selborne Brickworks that was confirmed previously to have been used by great crested newts. Dumping of the earth affected good quality terrestrial habitat, as was the compaction of ground and creation of new banks and hardstanding tracks. Hampshire Police visited the site shortly after the works, and ARC provided a specialist assessment and witness statement. The defendant pleaded guilty and was fined £1,200 and required to pay costs of £85 plus a victim surcharge of £120. This was in fact the second time that De Benham-Crosswell had committed an offence involving newts at this site.
Bearing Witness for Wildlife
ARC is working with others to improve the detection and enforcement of offences involving amphibians and reptiles. Notably, we are part of the Bearing Witness for Wildlife Project led by the Bat Conservation Trust (funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation). We are hoping to bring about some key changes such as improved sentencing guidance for magistrates. The current case demonstrates that penalties for wildlife offences are often relatively modest, and may not act as sufficient deterrent.
ARC would like to thank Natural England, Hampshire Police - notably Country Watch Officer PC Lynn Owen - and the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex Region, for their determined efforts to bring this case to court.
Photo : Damaged great crested newt habitat at Selborne Brickworks © Jim Foster.
Fundraising Thanks a billion to Stephen Green! By Martin O’Neill - Communications & Outreach Manager On Sunday 28 April 2019, Dr Stephen Green, Lecturer in Zoology at Cornwall College, ran the London Marathon for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, completing the race in a time of 4:38:11. After ARC secured an official charity place at the annual event, Stephen won our competitive application process to take this place. Following a ‘vote-bydonation’ element to his fundraising efforts, he ran the entire race as a herpetofauna species, albeit a fictional one: a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Stephen was interviewed during the BBC One coverage, and did a great job to raise the profile of ARC as a charity. After his television interview a surge of donations appeared on his fundraising page https:// uk.virginmoneygiving.com/StephenGreen34 After the race Stephen said: "What an incredible day. I'm so proud to have managed to complete the course and represent ARC. I couldn't have done this without the support of family, friends and complete strangers cheering me on and making such generous donations to my fundraising page." Every pound raised helps ARC in its mission to conserve amphibians and reptiles for future generations which, like the marathon itself, is a real challenge. Thanks to everyone who donated on Stephen’s fundraising page. The total raised so far is a stunning £2,651.25!
There are around 10,000 grant-giving Trusts and Foundations in the UK. In recent years ARC has been increasing the number of these that contribute to our overarching work through core and unrestricted funding, as well as supporting specific projects. Examples include The Garfield Weston Foundation and Pilkington General Charity supporting our overall work, and the Banister Charitable Trust and Thriplow Charitable Trust that provide funding restricted to projects. There are several different types of Trusts and Foundations. Private and Family Trusts are often set up by one or a small group of individuals as their preferred way of giving. Corporate Foundations tend to be set up to distribute a proportion of company profits to charities, and Institutional Foundations are the larger funders that typically have an endowment which generates interest, from which their Trustees distribute donations to charities. Trusts and Foundations usually have very specific criteria, and a recurring one is that many do not accept unsolicited applications, preferring instead to invite charities to apply.
Seven Degrees of ARC! By Atul Srivastava – Fundraising Coordinator
So how can you help ARC to be invited to apply to Trusts and Foundations? Introductions! Who in your network do you know, who might know someone, who knows someone, who is a Trustee of a Trust or Foundation? You have probably heard of the ‘seven degrees of separation’, and the same applies to connecting ARC with Trusts and Foundations. If you discover such connections on your travels, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org 13
Newt-tastic teamwork! By Pete Hill - South Wales Officer Amphibian and Reptile Conservation have been working in Southern Wales now for seven seasons. During that time, we have created well over 200 ponds and developed working relationships with land-managers of all kinds. One of the most constantly productive partnerships to date has been with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW). In addition to mapping amphibian and reptile populations and undertaking habitat enhancements to increase connectivity for great crested newts (GCN), toads, adders and grass snakes, the partnership has made another very interesting discovery. Great crested newts in a stone wall ÂŠ Pete Hill (ARC)
During August of 2017, the presence of great crested newts was confirmed at a site owned and managed by WTSWW by some of their staff and volunteers. The site is on the Gower peninsula and is situated 5km from the nearest known GCN record. WTSWW and ARC have been working closely with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to ensure that all of the appropriate licensing is in place to enable continued management of the site to be delivered without impacting the newts. In fact, WTSWW and ARC have gone a stage further and have submitted plans to not only restore the existing pond at the site, but to create an additional two ponds, potentially trebling the amount of available breeding habitat for GCN using the site.
This is a really exciting discovery with significant potential to benefit great crested newts at a local level. ARC hope to secure funding for another four years of pond creation and restoration to increase connectivity for declining amphibian and reptile species in South Wales. We will know in June 2019 whether we have been successful in securing the funds. If we indeed do so, ARC will be collaborating further with WTSWW and other local land managers to reinforce the metapopulation with the objective of linking the colony that has recently been discovered by WTSWW across the 5km stretch to other ponds inhabited by the Gowers great crested newts. Watch this space!
Mark Barber and Pete Hill with the Wildlife Trust team ÂŠ Pete Hill (ARC)
Funding for North East Wales By Mandy Cartwright - North Wales Officer ARC has received over £65,000 in North Wales from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. The project supports local communities and environmental projects. This project will be focusing on four key sites; primarily managed and monitored for great crested newts and the wider amphibian assemblage. The four sites are located within the urban town of Buckley, Flintshire, North East Wales. As a growing urban landscape this project will help us deliver nature reserve maintenance and provide opportunities to local people and communities to try out a variety of activities from pond dipping and species surveys to habitat management. There will also be a suite of interpretation boards along the network of paths that make up the Buckley Heritage Trail. This will highlight the species that people share their wider environment with and what ARC are doing to help both people and wildlife. Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) are administering the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme in Wales, on behalf of Welsh Government. This is a new Wales-wide scheme which focuses on community led benefit in three key themes: Biodiversity Waste Minimisation and Reduction of Waste to Landfill Wider Environmental Enhancements Speaking about the scheme and the project run by ARC, Catherine Miller, WCVA’s Grant Funds Manager said; ‘It’s really great to see the first of the new scheme’s projects coming to life. ARC are working within the community to enhance habitats and increase biodiversity; working with the people that live in the area on a project like this is a great demonstration of community led action for the environment’.
Photo top right: A new pond that has been created via this fund © Mandy Cartwright (ARC). Photo below: Urban amphibians will benefit hugely from this project © Chris Dresh (ARC).
Partnerships Santa Cruise By Sara Green - Canal Ranger at Basingstoke Canal Authority Santa Cruise is an annual event run by the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) from the visitors centre at Mytchett, Surrey. It is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the canal, with all profits going towards the maintenance of the canal itself. Every year Father Christmas comes to the centre and camps out in a yurt where children and adults alike take a trip on the canal to find the start of the tinsel trail, which winds its way through the woods, to find where he is staying. With people coming from as far away as London and Southampton for the event, every effort is made to make the setting as magical as possible. Extra pine trees are essential to “plump out” the woodland and conceal the yurt until the last possible moment. The usual source of these trees was unable to provide them this year, so another source had to be found. ARC kindly stepped in and offered access to Hankley Common. Four BCA canal rangers, two vans and two trailers arrived early on a November morning to harvest as many trees as could be fitted into the trailers. Over 100 trees were collected and taken back to Mytchett to be put up along the tinsel trail and around the yurt to help create a really festive feeling woodland. Once the event finished, the trees were chipped to help cover some of the paths around the centre grounds.
With 173 trips carrying over 2,000 adults and children throughout December, the total revenue raised this year topped £25,000.
The BCA is extremely grateful for the support from ARC Trust to ensure that this event was a magical as possible for all those that attended the trips. Photo top right: Over 100 trees were felled for the tinsel trail. Middle left: Trailers were loaded up with the trees. Bottom right: The tinsel trail leading up to Santa’s yurt © Basingstoke Canal Authority.
Captive breeding Paul’s new lizard lounge By Martin O'Neill - Communications & Outreach Manager When Paul Hudson, an electrical retailer from Penrith in Cumbria, decided to move house, he had an unusual requirement: he also needed a home for sand lizards! Paul has been an ARC volunteer for many years and has a lifelong interest in Britain’s rarest lizard. Working with ARC, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, he has reintroduced hundreds of captive-bred sand lizards into the wild, helping to restore their historic range. Since 1995 Paul has bred and released an impressive 1,000 northern race sand lizards in two areas of Lancashire and five in Wales. Paul said: “Sand lizards are my passion and I chose my new house mainly because it has a good location for a captive-breeding vivarium so I can continue the work of breeding and reintroducing this important species.” The vivarium, built through funding from ARC’s species budget and a successful application to the British Herpetological Society Conservation Fund, is an enclosed area for keeping and raising the lizards for observation, research and captive breeding. It simulates a portion of the species’ ecosystem on a small scale with controlled environmental conditions. It took six people to collect the Marram grass, six hours to plant up and months of planning, but the impressive new ‘home-from-home’ for sand lizards is now complete. We think they must be settling in well because mating began in earnest in early May!
Photo above right: Northern race sand lizard © Mick Brummage. Below: The completed vivarium © Paul Hudson.
Nick Moulton, ARC’s Reptile Conservation Officer, said: “Paul is a mainstay of the northern race sand lizard captive-breeding programme. He supports crucial work both as a volunteer and contractor. He makes a huge contribution to habitat management, captive breeding and re-introductions, plus site and species monitoring.”
Species Profile Adder (Vipera berus) Male © Chris Dresh (ARC)
Behaviour Emerge from hibernation in February/March and are often seen basking close to their hibernation sites. Mating takes place in April/May. Male adders sometimes engage in a ritual combat known as ‘Dance of the Adders’ in order to win the female. After mating, adders disperse and lead solitary lives. Give birth to around 6 to 20 live young in August or September. Feed largely on small rodents and lizards but have been known to take baby birds from nests. Hibernate from around October to February, depending on local conditions.
Dance of the Adders © Chris Dresh (ARC)
Appearance/Colour Short and stocky snake growing to around 60 cms. Distinct continuous dark zig-zag pattern running from nose to tail, with a row of spots on each side of the body. Eyes are red or dark orange with a vertical pupil. Males are generally an off-white or grey colour with black dorsal markings and a grey underside. Females are generally brown or copper with dark brown dorsal markings and a brown underside. Melanistic (black) adders can also be found. Young adders are copper, light brown or brick red, with darker brown markings.
Female © Chris Dresh (ARC)
Habitat/Where to find them Found throughout Britain, from the south coast of England to the far north of Scotland. It is not found in Ireland. Can be found in open habitats such as heathland and commons, moorland, sea cliffs, chalk downland, open woodland, woodland rides and railway embankments. Juvenile © John Baker (ARC)
Are adders dangerous? The adder is the UK’s only venomous snake. Though potentially serious, adder bites to humans or dogs are very rarely fatal. There are only around ten recorded cases of death from adder bite in the last 100 years, and most bites occur when the snake has been disturbed or deliberately antagonised.
Tail-Enders Make an edible pond! TAIL-ENDERS
Thinking of holding a party this summer? Want to have a show stopping dessert? How about a Jelly Pond?!
You will need… 300g blackcurrant jelly 300g berry blue Jell-O (see online) 300g lime jelly Blue food colouring Dragon Fruit or cooked tapioca
(for frog spawn) Jelly frogs Jelly worms, bugs & reed substitutes Jelly apple laces 1 apple Measuring jug 1 litre clear bowl
1. Follow the instructions on each pack of jelly to make up in a jug. Do this one at a time. Allow the jelly to cool (but don’t let it set) 2. Use the three colours to create layers dropping in creatures and foliage as you go. 3. Allow each layer to set in the fridge for an hour before adding the next layer. Bottom layer - Blackcurrant. Drop in some worms and apple laces. Leave some resting over the edge of the bowl. Middle layer - Lime (with 2 drops of blue food colouring added during mixing). Add more worms, bugs, reeds and frogs. Top layer - Berry blue Jell-o. Pop some more reeds in, a couple of frogs and your frog spawn. When set, add a bit more spawn, slice an apple for lilly pads and place your star frog on one.
Did you find the correct answers in the last issue of Hop Gossip?
Herp Word Puzzle Grid
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 744 Christchurch Road Boscombe Bournemouth Dorset BH7 6BZ Tel: Fax: Email:
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