After a bit of persistance I have been fortunate enough to edge my way onto the radar of a local ecological consultancy firm and today was invited out to help prepare a site for reptile surveillance over the coming weeks.
The site in question, which I should probably keep classified, is being assessed for reptile activity in advance of proposed development. A previous phase one survey of the site identified habitat suitable for reptiles presence. Sunny hillsides, areas of dense shrub pocketed with grass, occasional trees and a couple of ponds combine to provide ideal terrain to support a full range of British species including; Adders, Grass Snakes, Slow Worms and Common Lizards.
The work involved laying out over 200 reptile mat’s (100cm x 50cm cuts of shed roofing felt) in various transects across the site. These mat’s attract reptiles as they retain heat more efficiently than the ambient environment, providing an ideal surface for basking reptiles to warm up on or under.
After laying the matts today, they are being left for 1-2 weeks to ‘bed down’. During this period the felt should be able to settle into the ground surface, foliage can grow up around the mat’s whilst that underneath it, can die down. Furthermore it gives reptiles a chance to locate and acclimatise to the mats.
Hopefully, I will be returning to the site on numerous occasions throughout September in order to check the mat’s for reptile presence. Depending on the species, individuals may be found above (e.g. common lizard) or below (e.g. Slow worm) the mat and I am really looking forward to the chance to see some of these species.