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National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme – NARRS Reptile Surveys

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National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme NARRS Reptile Surveys Slide 2 How to survey for reptiles Reptiles warm up by basking or lying under warm objects Reptile survey should (ideally) combine two techniques: Visual search Artificial refugia All species can be found using visual search But artificial refugia greatly increase chances of detection (for some species) Slide 3 How to survey for reptiles Refugia important surveying some than others: Slow-worms, smooth snakes surveys should involve refugia (rarely seen otherwise) Adders, grass snakes refugia useful (but can be found by visual search) Common lizards, sand lizards refugia can be useful (but must use visual search as well otherwise miss lots) Always search when walking between refugia Practice really does help! Slide 4 When to survey for reptiles best time of year Best time is the spring (especially April) Reptiles most active and visible Getting into breeding condition Cool weather need to bask for longer at this time of year As the spring becomes summer, survey only possible in short periods As cooler autumn arrives - survey conditions improve again Slide 5 When to survey for reptiles best time of year Bad Best Good Variable/ Poor Slide 6 When to survey for reptiles best time of year Sand lizard sightings per month Definite spring peak Slide 7 When to survey for reptiles best time of day Early spring - middle hours of the day (c.11am- 3pm) Late spring mid morning (c.9-11am) and late afternoon (c.4-6pm) Summer short periods in morning (c.7-9am) and evening (6-8pm); hot weather can produce totally negative results Autumn similar to spring timings However, time of day varies with weather too Slide 8 When to survey for reptiles best weather conditions No clear-cut way of defining right/wrong weather Strong wind/heavy rain not good Any other conditions can be good (depending on the time of year & time of day) Early spring/late autumn sunny or partial cloud Air temperature 10-20C Late spring/early autumn sun/cloud and bright overcast forces reptiles to bask longer Sunshine after rain is ideal First sunshine after dull overcast weather Extended periods of hot dry weather - not good Slide 9 Fff Weather vs time of day vs season Mar Apr May Jun July Aug SeptOct 1900 1700 1500 1300 1100 0900 0700 Slide 10 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Walk slowly, scanning sunny sides of vegetation Keep sun behind you or to your side Tune your eye in to vegetation interfaces Often places where reptiles bask along edges Seldom far from dense cover for protection Slide 11 Walk slowly, scanning the ground as you go Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Slide 12 Look for sheltered spots that act as suntraps Slide 13 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Junction between vegetation types/heights Slide 14 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Varied height structure look in short patches Slide 15 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Edge of gorse scrub, meeting rough grass Slide 16 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Moss or lichen patches among taller vegetation Slide 17 Artificial refugia Corrugated metal best Roofing material/felt good Rubber car mats, plastic sheeting, carpet ok Size approx half a square metre (70 x 70cm) Choose sunny locations away from public view and livestock Press down close to the ground Deep cover or edge of dense vegetation Not on bare ground/sparse cover Lift and replace refugia carefully taking care not to squash retreating animals Use a stick or adder-proof glove if necessary to ensure safety Slide 18 Artificial refugia Corrugated metal sheets (tins) cut to size Slide 19 Artificial refugia Old rusty tins often more effective Slide 20 Artificial refugia Corrugated bitumen-based roofing material (onduline) Slide 21 Artificial refugia Roofing felt Slide 22 Artificial refugia Roofing slate Slide 23 Pre-existing objects acting as refugia Wooden board Slide 24 Pre-existing objects acting as refugia Discarded wheels, tyres, scrap etc. Slide 25 Pre-existing objects acting as refugia Discarded clothing, plastic, rubber etc. Slide 26 NARRS Preliminary square assessment Consult an Ordnance Survey map (Landranger map 1:50,000 or Explorer 1:25,000 scale) Or an online map of your square ( enter 4-fig grid ref e.g. SK1294 and zoom out once) Aerial photo useful ( needs 6-fig grid reference e.g. SK120940 and click aerial button) Identify key areas most likely to support reptiles Slide 27 Preliminary square assessment Looking up your square on Slide 28 Preliminary square assessment Looking at aerial photo on Slide 29 Landowner permissions Always seek permission from landowners/ tenants before entering private land Always seek permissions to survey, whether public or private land As a courtesy, even seek permission to survey on Open Access land See the guidance at Slide 30 Further square assessment If permission is not granted for enough (key) areas, request another square Plan a walking route that takes in all key areas (representing best habitat, and surveyable in 2-3 hrs) Walk your square Lay artificial refugia (if suitable places, safe, permitted by landowners) Slide 31 Survey visits Between March-June, ideally April-May: Choose suitable conditions (time of day, weather) Cover key areas in a survey lasting no more than 3 hours Visual search and check refugia Fill in your survey form (visit details, survey effort, reptiles seen use ID Guide if needed) Try to make four visits (ideally, the fourth visit should be at least 4 weeks after refugia were laid) More visits if you like Slide 32 Completion/data submission As soon as possible after survey visits: Submit your results online at or send your survey form to the ARC Remove refugia Feedback to landowners if interested Slide 33 Licensing A licence is required to survey sand lizards or smooth snakes You can be covered by the ARCs survey licence, subject to training or experience ask your trainer to pass your details to ARC if you think you will encounter protected reptiles during your surveys! Slide 34 Good luck with your survey! Slide 35 Photographs Photographs used in this presentation are by Lee Brady, Julia Carey, Jon Cranfield, Terry Elborn, Chris Gleed-Owen, Fred Holmes, Paul Stevens and John Wilkinson Copyright of all photographs remains with the photographers and ARC These photographs should not be used for purposes other than NARRS training without the permission of the photographers.