RAUK - Archived Forum - bumper year for common lizards?

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bumper year for common lizards?:

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mickp
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Joined: 05 Aug 2009
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Posted: 29 Aug 2009
Hi to everyone on this forum. this is my first post here. It seems to me to be a particularly good year for common lizards in my part of the country (North Devon). In the damp long grass meadows where i walk my dog I often see a half dozen yearling and newborns basking together at most available basking sites,  is this reflected in the rest of the country and could it be due to the wet but rather warm summers of the last three years.

Mike.

Iowarth
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Joined: 12 Apr 2004
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Posted: 29 Aug 2009
Hi Mike
Firstly, I see you only joined us about three weeks ago so welcome to the forum.
As for your comment/question I think you may well be right. The last couple of summers (here at least) have only had average temperatures but certainly Common lizards have no trouble with dampness - and it may even be beneficial.
The summers have certainly been beneficial for many small invertebrate species so a plentiful supply of food has been available. Coupled with the Common lizard's ready ability to take advantage of even brief sunny intervals this could all add up to their advantage.
My field trips are very limited nowadays but I have noticed something of a resurgence in the Common lizard population at Boscombe where the competition from Wall lizards might have been somewhat lessened by their general preference for drier conditions.
Chris

Chris Davis, Site Administrator
Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme
herpetologic2
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Joined: 15 Jun 2004
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Posted: 29 Aug 2009
Sorry, but it has not been a bumper year at all for
viviparous lizards - their numbers are very much down
from previous years.

Half a dozen younger animals would indicate that there is
breeding and it is successful. However it is the adult
counts which would give a better indication of how the
colony is doing. Effectively the animals you are seeing
could be from just a few adult animals.

I have been surveying a well known lizard site in Botley
and I have only found 1 young lizard where I normally see
over 6 lizards per visit.

I have seen a few adults in my local churchyard and quite
a few babies this year which was good to see


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Iowarth
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Joined: 12 Apr 2004
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Posted: 29 Aug 2009
Methinks we are all in danger of generalising here. It is sometimes difficult to remember that conditions and consequent results can vary from location to location. My comments regarding Boscombe relate to a noticeable, indeed substantial, increase in numbers of all life-stages over the last three years. A similar situation has occurred in the only local colony I manage to visit.
Mike's comments regarding  "half dozen yearling and newborns basking together at most available basking sites" suggest that this represents a change over what he normally sees. If this is so then a significant increase in young over the last two years would suggest that it has indeed been a "bumper" year there. After all, the extent and viability of a colony is measured both by adults and offspring. And an increase in offspring over a couple of years DOES suggest that, for whatever reason, that particular colony is having an upswing.
But, Mike's comments refer to North Devon, mine to the Dorset and Sussex coasts, and Jon's to inland Hampshire (presumably?). These are possibly differing habitats and almost certainly differing micro-climates. 
Given this it is probably unwise for any of us to make a general statement of "it has been a good/bad couple of years for..." - rather "it has been a good year at location A" or ".... a bad year at location B".

Chris Davis, Site Administrator
Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme
herpetologic2
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Posted: 30 Aug 2009
My experience is over several sites across the south and
east of England. It seems to be a bad year for usual
sites where plenty of lizards are normally found in the
same conditions and the same level of survey effort.

The continued recording effort of members of RAUK, ARGs
etc is essential to find new sites and monitoring
existing ones.

I suspect that the churchyard population is doing okay
with maybe 3 to 4 females and males with at least 20
young this year in an area of grassland of approx 0.07ha
or 700m2

J


Vice Chair of ARG UK - self employed consultant -
visit ARG UK & Alresford Wildlife
herpetologic2
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Joined: 15 Jun 2004
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Posted: 30 Aug 2009
PS welcome to the forum and would you be interested in
getting more involved with the ARG in DEvon?
Vice Chair of ARG UK - self employed consultant -
visit ARG UK & Alresford Wildlife
mikebrown
Senior Member
Joined: 30 Jun 2005
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Posted: 30 Aug 2009
If this is a good or bad year for Common lizards, could anyone suggest reasons why? Certainly, I wouldn't have thought that a cool, wet Summer would be a sole cause of a decline in a species which thrives even in many areas in Scotland.
Mike Brown
Merseyside ARG
mickp
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Joined: 05 Aug 2009
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Posted: 30 Aug 2009
Hi Chris and herpetologic2 and thanks for the replies.
It seems that from what you both are saying is that I am seeing a purely local effect. Of course it's possible that I am seeing more individuals not because there are more but for some other reason. possibly as my dog has got older and less boisterous he disturbs them less.  It's rather surprising that I rarely see many lizards on hot sunny days.  The best times are when the weather is cloudy with weak watery sunshine, I guess that the animals need to bask for longer and being colder are slower to move off when disturbed.
I only see the lizards when they sit on the wooden fences either the lowest rail of the post and rail fences or the diagonal braces of the barbed wire fence. Is this because they congregate here or are they spread throughout the meadows but only visible when fence sitting.

Herpetologic2, I am interested in getting more involved with ARG in Devon

Thanks Mike

-LAF
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Joined: 03 Apr 2003
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Posted: 01 Sep 2009
The east coast of Lincolnshire has more juvenile ZVs than
I can ever recall in relation to the number of adults.
Peak adult population there was in 2001 for me (or 1997
previously... probably double the numbers) but this year
was very good for neos.

Closer to home, the adult population in the Cotswolds is
good, and neos are middling. Either way, on the sites I'm
familiar with, the number of neos is good for the
population of adults.

Long story short... This has, IMO, been a good year, but
a few more like it are needed to bring back the
population densities I recall as a teenager.
Lee Fairclough
mikebrown
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Joined: 30 Jun 2005
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Posted: 23 Oct 2009

On the Merseyside coast, Common Lizards seem to have had a good year in 2009, with a lot of babies around in the late Summer and Autumn.

The strange thing is that while there were still quite a few of this year's young around (as well as a few adults) up to weekend 10-11 October, they all seemed to suddenly disappear for the Winter by the following weekend, even though the weather was good at times in-between, with no frosts. I havn't noticed such a sudden disappearance for the Winter before with this species. The same number of Sand lizards (mainly babies) seem to be still around as at the start of the month.

Have others noticed such a rapid disappearance for the Winter of Common Lizards?


Mike Brown
Merseyside ARG
dave fixx
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Posted: 24 Oct 2009
Hi Mike,
 Yes up in Llandegla with similar conditions to you ,I did a survey on the tuesday after that weekend in near perfect conditions and not one .They were still out on the same day at a different site, in the same conditions.
   The adders seem to perform a similar trick up there to.It is a higher site but only about 6 miles away and has many more individuals of each species than the other site.More investigation needed although hibernation sites have been identified.

Dave

Dave Williams
davewilliamsphotography.co.uk
ST24
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Joined: 27 Mar 2010
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Posted: 13 Apr 2010
Just picked up on this thread. As I mentioned in my photo thread, '08 we were virtually tripping over then at Cors Caron reserve, yet last year we saw very few. Have been there 3 times this year and haven't seen one, yet have finally seen them over Cannock Chase  (or rather several rapidly disappearing tails!)

- bumper year for common lizards?

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