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j gaughan
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Posted: 27 May 2003 Topic: Sighting of a smooth snake



JP's snake does point to VB, but you never know. Of the numerous CA reports that i've received over the years, only a handfull lay within it's known range eg. Hants & the Dorest coast. Intriguing 'heath' reports have come from Berks & Cornwall, but most are probably mis-ID's eg. the one crossing the river at Boxhill & even on the central rough at Ascot Racecourse. When a sea-wall outside Portsmouth can turn up the real thing, we're reminded that all our herps can, on occaision, be found almost anywhere in the UK _like the healthy animal picked up, 30 yrs ago, crossing a road in Essex.


j gaughan
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Posted: 27 May 2003 Topic: Blue spotted Slow worm



nice one david; i'll be looking at my females more closely in future. i have found attractive stripey males (at least one pic somewhere) with varying degrees of dark flanking & occasionally females with odd grey flecks on the upper body region, but it never occured to me that they may turn blue as in the usual males of the form. i am informed that 3-4 examples are known from europe, so a good first for the british islands.


j gaughan
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Posted: 30 May 2003 Topic: Sand Lizard Identification and Sightings



Hello Tony, i'm John _Mike Preston's Assistant in the Weald (HCT). The earliest 'laid' female in our large outdoor viv near Guildfofd, was on May 22nd with another yesterday (29th), plus one digging a nest chamber _an early year. I photographed one, that i nearly stood on, years ago while surveying the cliffs at Poole, and agree with you as to their vunerability at this time of year _it makes you wonder what the dive-bombing Kestrels are actually picking off the Bournemouth cliffs.


j gaughan
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Posted: 30 May 2003 Topic: Fire survival



Visited two recently burnt Surrey sites yesterday at oppersite ends of the scale; firstly, Pirbright Ranges, where the whole 2,400 acres went up last month save a scattering of odd veg islands. It was encouraging to find 5 imm's, the new colonisers, on a heather-fringed, burnt hill overlooking the entire site. The other was 8 hectares of Frensham, from the day before, with firemen still damping down. We translocated 9 LV (incl 5 imm's) and a Pygmy Shrew from under burnt log piles _ only 2 dead AF males found. Depressing and rewarding at the same time.


j gaughan
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Posted: 30 May 2003 Topic: Queen Elizabeth II Barracks



i'll check it out David but we don't get wind of everything 'herpetological' in the weald

john


j gaughan
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Posted: 06 Jun 2003 Topic: Unusual Toad behaviour



your right gemma                                                                                                     


        i saw this once, some years ago, in a large pond at kidbrook NR in south-east london   _really impressive                                   


                                                                                                       john


j gaughan
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Posted: 09 Jun 2003 Topic: Fire survival



the 'frensham' fire reported above was 'not' actually on that common, but on nearby heathland.
june 4th : with a pair of carrion crows picking over the area, moved 14 LV (incl 2 imms) & 2 TH; also met the ranger who was there until 8 pm the previous night 'still damping down' smouldering peat in the trees, where it's believed children started it _the fire being 1st reported 26th may; he had a dead CA ad. earlier in the week and on a positive note, a living one turned up the day before (h. inns).
with 'pirbright's' biggest 'total' burn for 25 yrs, we were really pleased to hear that it missed a peripheral area of 30 plus yr old habitat, already tinned for CA, which we hope is an outpost for this historic site _time will tell


j gaughan
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Posted: 09 Jun 2003 Topic: Serious concerns for Ash Berus



Back in 1996 a few of these signs were removed by the Rangers at Frensham for the same reasons pointed out by David.

I agree with him and all on this one.

John.




j gaughan
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Posted: 16 Jun 2003 Topic: Common Frog Sample



well done gemma       '_ where there's a will . . . ' and what a great way to gather data as and when the oppurtunity arrises (with newts get their bellie); in his 'frogs & toads' (whittet books, 1985), trevor beebee offers a a word of thanks to his wife, maggie, for putting up with tadpoles in the bath; in my opinion, any herpetologist of worth into british species (regardless of status), should have at least one 'bath experience' during the course of their career                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          john




j gaughan
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Posted: 17 Jun 2003 Topic: one of todays finds



hello gemma,                                                                          

on the 'golden ringed' _a heathland species with females possessing a unique ovipositor (spot it on yours), making them britain's longest; i can highly recommend peter follet's 'dragonflies of surrey' (1996) published by the surrey wildlife trust; reviewed on RAUK, their 'reptiles & amphibians...' is the latest in this supurb series, which since '95, has also covered the butterflies, larger moths, hoverflies, grasshoppers & crickets, and ladybirds _all of which are readly encountered in the field while herping                                                                                                                     john


j gaughan
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Posted: 12 Aug 2003 Topic: Adder bite at Swanwick



nice analogy david and i fully agree; slowly but surely my own preconceived ideas of 'textbook' field herpetology are being altered (blown-out) annually eg. all our reptiles, including adders, under 'red-hot tins' and out in seering heat, as witnessed lately; come to think of it, my first ever reptiles found (and caught) were viviparious lizards under tin on the shingle beach at dungerness in the sweltering heat of an august afternoon in 1975

joh5


j gaughan
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Posted: 25 Sep 2004 Topic: Frensham Tins



Hello Vicar

Please e-mail exactly 'where' and i'll check with the main man, Steve Webster _a truly dedicated countryside ranger ( _and musician)

Johnj gaughan38255.1114930556


j gaughan
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Posted: 23 Aug 2003 Topic: Blue spotted Slow worm




_well, let's say a 'good first published pic.' as i've just found a ref. to one found at newtondale, yorkshire in 1965

this appears in colin simms 'lives of british lizards' (1970), and no doubt a thorough literature search will reveal more _it nearly always usually does

john


j gaughan
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Posted: 25 Aug 2003 Topic: Altitude reached by Vipera berus in UK?



nice one ewan

and tony _on a high welsh 'adder' :

i received an interesting 2nd hand report from a portsmouth field herpetologist i was 'bracken spraying' with last week;
on august 9th, he climbed a 900m peak in 'snowdonia national park' and was afterwards informed by a fellow climber / naturalist type of an adder seen during his ascent; the snake was on the narrow (animal) trackway through heather, used by climbers, at an estimated altitude of c 600m; i'll be carefully 'checking the maps' with him this week _his own herp encounter that weekend being a humble 'common frog' in a crevice

_on scottish highland adders :

just a 1970 lit. ref. to a glen beside 'loch ness' that rises to over 750m

_on a N england report :

received a reliable record (very close views) from parents at my daughters school _while cycling in
the 'yorkshire dales national park', with surrounding land rising to over 450m; they have a precise grid ref


_on SE english adders :

our 'highest' wealden site is c 230m asl with 'melanic' form of viviparious lizard & adder present; _ the highest natural point in the region being 294m at 'leith hill', surrey

it would be nice to keep an (updatable) register of known 'high altitude populations' of our herps on these islands

tony, i'll PM details of the above to you, when complete

john


j gaughan
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Posted: 25 Aug 2003 Topic: Help!



hello bill

just to let you know, only once have i found bright, 'sand lizard-like' green viviparious lizards; this was in a grazed field with scattered gorse & granite boulders beside the fast-flowing river dart in 'dartmoor national park' and we were camping there with our school team for the 'ten tors' walking competition in 1977; another nice field observation was migrating common toads, some in amplexus, crossing the same field to spawn in the relative quite of deep, boulder pools along the rivers banks _i look forward to checking out this old site again

as for 'coll', lee and david,

one of our 'trustees' checks this remote site every 5 years and reports a small but stable population holding its own; his last visit recorded a range expansion, breaking away from the main foci so the inner hebridian sand lizard is on the move

john


j gaughan
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Posted: 26 Aug 2003 Topic: Wasp Spider



i remember you asking me david, a few years ago if 'Argiope' had arrived in the weald, but i havn't found it yet on our 30-odd heathland sites in surrey, NE hants & W sussex _and i'm looking out for it; what i have found is more webs of 'Attypus affinis' the purse-web spider, under tin and logs; and the last two years have shown an increase in the green tiger beetle (Cicendela campestris) and sand wasp spp. along the 'kilometers of bare sand' we create & manage for sand lizards

nearer to home, nicola dragged me out of bed on june 22nd to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) feeding on the high privet in our frontgarden in SE london;
and up the road, her parents had the almost unbelivable pleasure of 8 poplar hawk moths (Laothoe populi) fly in through their open french-doors at c 3.00 am on august 9th _they have an impressive row of tall, mature black poplar trees out the back

john


j gaughan
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Posted: 28 Aug 2003 Topic: Adders in Yorkshire



hello all

i'm reliably informed that they occur at 'hamsterley forest' in the yorkshire dales, further north

john


j gaughan
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Posted: 29 Aug 2003 Topic: Bad Adder Publicity



hello all

first of all, thanks wolfgang for your advice on an earlier thread _ a related issue

now, i've had the pleasure of been 'bitten' by all our terrestial reptiles, minus the one that counts;
once each by a slow-worm & grass snake, the later being a 2' female, angry with being unearthed early from hibernation which was just below the surface under a log pile, while we cleared ground for another outdoor viv. ; she hissed & struck wildy (adder-like), drawing blood on my hand, but nothing compared to what a ladder snake did in the south of france once

sounds like grass snake to me unless it was a big, fat angry Anguis _'''they never bite'' i told a little girl holding one for the first time at a reptile show ('lizard day' at frensham 3 yrs ago), then it slowly bit into her finger just like a smooth snake; luckily she was alright about it and joined her friends in laughter

my 'bite' came when i grabbed 5 or 6 in the same hand that were under a mattress i was holding up with my other arm _rescued off a dorset heath, now a housing estate, 20-odd yrs ago

it's an important part of our role, to guide the people of the press to a new and enlightened 21st century view of herps, hopfully educating them and in turn their readership, in the mainstream; as for bats & spiders . . .

i was passed an article from the 'daily mail' for sat. 16th aug. which was well illustrated (life-size adder pic.) with a positive text, quoteing jim foster, but still the usual headline: 'Beware snakes! _Serpents slither out in the heatwave . . . including the poisonous adder'

out of interest lee, what was the 'headline' to that biting story

john








j gaughan
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Posted: 29 Aug 2003 Topic: Smooth snake bite



hello all

i've had a similar bite reaction once as david describes, though my audience were trustees and MOD officials; before joining the group, an otherwise placid male slowly bit both hands, which i didn't remove straight away; around 15 mins. later i was still wiping both hands on my shorts as the blood, although small amounts, was still flowing; no other symptoms but i do remember thinking how odd it was at the time

john


j gaughan
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Posted: 16 Sep 2003 Topic: Adders in Yorkshire



thanks caleb for that

_just reporting 'as informed' and still chasing the precise 6-fig. OS grid ref. on this one, as it was on a designated cycle route (complete with leaflet)

john


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