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John Newton
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Posted: 30 Mar 2006 Topic: Viviparous lizard photographs



Hi Jon/Gemma

The animal on the right is a definite male;'looks' like one and has the tail basal swelling. The brown animal on the lower left is also a definite male;'looks' like one and has the broad head profile of a male.

 




John Newton

South Yorkshire ARG
John Newton
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Posted: 01 Apr 2006 Topic: Reptile Digital photography



Hi Jerry

Cracking photo. The beastie does seem to be carrying yet another sheep tick(Ixodes) behind its right eye. Was this a fairly young animal ??.

We never seem to get these on Derbyshire/Yorkshire animals, but do obviously occur in quantity on the Dorset/Wealden heaths.




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 11 Feb 2007 Topic: Early emergence



Following 4"-5" of snow which fell in Derbyshire this week, I went out this afternoon to check on local adder sites.

So far, I have still only come across this one male, which was out today at 6degC, sunny with breeze. Much of the snow melted yesterday, but there's still a lot about, albeit not on the bracken mounds!

I've posted a piccie of the well hidden animal seen again today, although its a bit of a challenge to see where it is, but I did'nt want to disturb it just for the chance of a better shot.




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 15 Mar 2007 Topic: NARRS blog



Hi Jon

No problem with the photos - shame the weather was so dismal !!

Regards




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 19 May 2005 Topic: Green Lizard



Hi Jeff

The lizard is definitely a male L.Schreiberi, and I have seen them regularly at the Plataforma in the Gredos - they share the habitat with L.monticola cyreni, typically amongst the boulders by the stream.

Hope this helps




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 21 May 2005 Topic: Green Lizard



Hi Jeff

The photo of the male Schreiberi at the Plataforma is very typical of those from that area, and in the Guadarrama. Males from the north coast are not that dissimilar, although females from the north coast have completely different 'blodges' and back patterns from those in the Sistema Central. Some males I have seen in the Gredos - Arenas de San Pedro - and in the Guadarrama do occasionally display some degree of dark 'blodges' in the central region of the back, but this is not invariably the case. I have seen one female completely devoid of any blotched markings, being a uniform lime green over the entire dorsal surface, so as with most species there can be some variation within its range of distribution and at a local site level.

Useful references which illustrate the 'blodged' male examples are:

Guia de los anfibios y reptiles de la peninsula iberica ... by Alfredo Salvador

http://pdubois.free.fr/

www.club100.net/species/L_schreiberi/L_schreiberi.html

Both of the above links show Gredos animals, and the pdubois link photo is taken at the Puerto del Pico, close to the Plataforma.

The club100 link shows typical Gredos females, although some of these are misidentified as being males

Over the years I have seen numerous Schreiberi at the Plataforma, and in much of the Sistema Central, and if you wish I can email you some of my own photos

 

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 18 Jul 2005 Topic: Grass snake habitat



I note from your post on South Yorkshire Reptiles, and the response from Chris Monk that you are probably based local to Sheffield. I would imagine that the heathland you visited is to the north of the city, in the upper Don Valley, and as such does have a localised distribution of Natrix.

If you are specifically interested in this species, as Chris Monk has pointed out, the Sorby publication 'Reptiles and Amphibians of the Sheffield area and North Derbyshire' contains a distribution map, and commentary indicating a predominant distribution east of gridline 30. There is a correlation with lush lowland wetland habitats associated with the rivers Don and Rother. Areas around Woodhouse, Rother Valley Country Park, Whittington and Staveley are as good as anywhere.

At this time of year, in the hot weather we have been having, you will need to be out fairly early - feeding animals are regularly observed at 7-00am, although Natrix are notably more prone to bask at higher temperatures than Berus.

Hope this helps

John

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 19 Jul 2005 Topic: Grass snake habitat



In the Wharncliffe area, natrix have been recorded from the region to the north of MoreHall Water Gardens, continuing on towards Deepcar, along the Upper Don valley. You will not be tripping over them, and repeated visits will probably be required for an eventual sighting - unless you're lucky!!

Regards

John

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 20 Jul 2005 Topic: Grass snake habitat



Hi again

Sightings in the upper Don Valley, as in many riverine habitats are not entirely restricted to within a few yards of the rivers margins, but are spread over a significant area, including many of the embankments with a predominantly 'southern' aspect, and which also offer suitable micro-habitat for such as amphibian prey items.

You will probably need to learn to look some 10-12 feet in front of where you are walking in order to maximise the chance of you seeing them before they detect your ground-borne vibrations.

Anyway, the main things is to get out there, and stay positive about the chances of seeing something - all records are important, and should be forwarded on to local recorders, including the Sorby Natural History Society  www.shu.ac.uk/city/community/sorby/, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust  www.yorkshire-wildlife-trust.org.uk/ or through RAUK

Alternatively, I'm sure Chris Monk or myself can ensure any of your records are added to the database.

John

 

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 18 Feb 2006 Topic: 2006 is comino to life!



Hi all

A single male adder out today at a noted Derbyshire Peak District emergence site, about 1-30pm, very sunny and decidedly warm. Ground temperatures were still quite cold in places following an overnight ground frost.

This animal was surprisingly active when it made off, and was equally active following its reappearance. Interestingly, it seems that an identical appearance, more or less to the day, was noted during last years survey work, at exactly the same location !!




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 19 Feb 2006 Topic: 2006 is comino to life!



Gemma, I am sure you are absolutely right with respect to the repeated use of hibernation features and local topography at most sites, especially when such features are at a premium, and therefore singled out repeatedly by indviduals.

The Derbyshire site, in question, comprises at least three principal hibernation 'areas' (although additional ones are likely to be discovered - hopefully) which are all very different from each other.

The site visited yesterday is relatively open in comparison with the surrounding moorland, and connects to a bracken covered embankment. There is a small proportion of heather at the site, the rest of it consisting of short sheep-grazed grass with a number of exposed rocks/boulders, and the adders take full advantage of cavities beneath these boulders as the hibernation feature.

I suspect that the limited distribution of rocks/cavities guarantees a full occupancy each winter, and thus accounts for the repeated sightings.

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 04 Mar 2006 Topic: 2006 is comino to life!



Six adders out this afternoon at three sites on the Derbyshire moors.

They were observed over a two hour sunny period between 13-05 and 15-15 this afternoon, with air temperatures falling from 3 degC to 2 degC.

Ground temperatures at the basking sites were 'warm to the touch' which is probably not too surprising. It is interesting to note that all of the snakes had been hibernating in bracken mounds - lower thermal inertia, which adjusts to ambient air temperature relatively quickly - whereas adders which hibernate in the more 'solid' substrate of heather/peat/soil banks are not yet showing, possibly due to the higher thermal inertia responding more slowly to changes in ambient temperature. Temperatures this week have been decidedly frosty, with the previous two days dropping to -4 & -5 degC.

Interestingly, Chris Monk's first sightings last year at these sites were obtained at similar low temperatures, and numbers of animals. I know that Chris is undertaking some extensive surveys of these sites over the next few weeks, so hopefully temperatures and numbers of animals will rise a little !!

Just as a side note, is also apparent that at one of the sites, the adders (all male) display a 'green' background colouration - this seemed quite pronounced in one of todays animals, although I suppose this might be less evident after the first slough of the season. Apart from this site, I have only ever seen adders with a pronounced green background at a location on the North Yorkshire moors. The animal below is of a more typical hue - looks like a digital SLR would be advantageous, for more focus control and extra megapixels !!

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 05 Mar 2006 Topic: Proposed reptile survey in NE Wales



Hi Mike (Brown)

If you, or Peter Tipping, wish to contact me by Private Messenger, then perhaps I can help fill in some of the blanks where common lizard appear to be under-recorded.

I have been recording on Merseyside since the mid-70's, mainly coastal between Hoylake/West Kirby up to the northern suburbs of Southport.

Common lizards do appear to occupy most of the available habitat(s), particularly in the coastal frontal/fixed dunes, and along the railway verges, and in many localities are well represented.

 

Regards,

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 09 Mar 2006 Topic: Male Combat



Hi Alan

Up here in the wilds of Derbyshire, combat displays are typically seen during the first two weeks of April. The display can happen very suddenly, usually when not expected, and can be very frantic with both males moving extremely quickly throught the vegetation. It is usually brought on by an unattached male approaching another (attached) one which has mating intentions with a nearby female. Occasionally the frantic displays are actually between the male and female, and not two males - presumably because she is not too impressed by the males approaches, and as a result, gets chased about by him.

I suppose the trick in witnessing the display is to make frequent and persistent visits to sites, keeping known males under protracted observation, on the basis that at some point you may witness just a brief confrontation prior to mating.

Hope this helps.

 

 




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 18 Mar 2006 Topic: 2006 is comino to life!



Hi all

Quick visit to the Derbyshire moors after lunch today produced 6 male adders 'basking' in exceptionally cold 'wind chill' conditions - also still some snow left on the ground from earlier in the week, so it might be the nearest we get to adders in snow piccies.

At least one of the animals was a few yards away from his bracken mound, on sheep grazed grass, and I first thought he was dead, with no obvious signs of life when moved back on to the mound - fortunately small signs of movement eventually appeared, and he was obviously OK although evidently caught out by the chilling conditions.

Its reassuring to think that soon all will be well and back on course, from the weather perspective  - as Chris Monk mentioned earlier, up here, we have had a week of freezing rain, freezing fog, snow, and the sun hasn't shone for about 2 weeks!!




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 18 Mar 2006 Topic: 2006 is comino to life!



Actually, I'm also posting a couple of head shots of a male from today which has a moderate deformity of the temporal scale behind the left eye - obviously makes for easy recognition, but does not appear to be as a consequence of previous wounds.

Any thoughts !??




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 19 Mar 2006 Topic: 2006 is comino to life!



Hi Gemma/Al

On close inspection, it does appear to be more of a congenital defect than injury from foe or fire. The site in question has not, in my memory, had a burn in the past 40years (touch wood), people pressure is virtually non-existent, otherwise possible predation from moorland corvids, raptors, and the ubiquitous Magpie. Interestingly, my count of individuals on this site so far this year is 8 - all photo-id'd, and this is the only one to date  with anything quite so distinguishing - Chris Monk is also surveying this site, so we will keep a weather eye open for any other 'defects' within the population - might help if the sun could show itself occasionally.




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 20 Mar 2006 Topic: Surrey Sand lizards



Hi Steve

Superb piccie of a male LA, not as yet in full breeding garb, having only just emerged. Mid-March is not a bad time for first emergence, and on Merseyside it is fairly typical - its just that this year has seen fairly atypical weather conditions for March. Was over on Merseyside last weekened, but weather was atrocious with several inches of snow in places, and no signs of emergence.

Certainly by the end of March, a reasonable number of males (occasionally resembling females) should be evident




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 20 Mar 2006 Topic: Canford Heath fire



No firm details as yet, awaiting the light of day, but assuredly a huge herpetological disaster - obvious effects on adders/commons/slowwies currently active, but populations of Ca/La/Natrix not yet emerged will be devoid of habitat when they emerge - yet another rescue scenario.

Just heard on news that is was started by a group of young kids, seen running away......stuff like this gets to me.




John Newton

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John Newton
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Posted: 20 Mar 2006 Topic: Surrey Sand lizards



Hi Steve

I doubt you would find much difference between Dorset and Wealden races, but i would expect a slightly earlier emergence in the south than with the Merseyside animals.

Merseyside animals typically start to appear from mid-march onwards, although first week in March does sometimes happen - furthermore, there have been uncharacteristically mild winters of recent, and I wouldnt mind betting that odd animals might turn up if enough time and effort were put into 'winter survey'. Helen Jackson did some work back in the '70s which showed that the isohel for the 6.5hr May sunshine data passed through both the Poole Basin heaths, and Liverpool  - might not be that much difference between the three races.

As with adders, males are invariably the first to emerge, and can precede the females (on Merseyside) by 3-4 weeks. Confusion can occasionally created by the drab appearance of newly emerged males resembling females.

Not sure about the adder predating on SL issue, but I have frequently observed the two basking within inches of each other both in Dorset and Surrey, without any undue signs of distress - admittedly this has usually been in early spring when neither species is that intent on feeding.

I'm sure the guys at HCT will have more comprehensive data on SL predation by adders, so probably worth speaking to them.

 

 




John Newton

South Yorkshire ARG

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