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Tony Phelps
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Posted: 28 Mar 2003 Topic: Adder Information



 

Tony Phelps is look for information regarding anyone doing serious work on Adders north of Watford. Info on- emergence, mating period, and details of habitats. Also need good photos of habitat, hibernating sites etc, particularly for - East Anglia, N.Wales, Cumbria, N.Yorks, and Scotland, including islands.

 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 28 Mar 2003 Topic: Early adder sightings



Adders - usually the smaller male <35-45cm often out in force here in SE Dorset on many sites February. Older males <55cm peak early March. Sites variable re microclimate (eg could be screened by tall conifers).

When properly emerged (first weeks of March) males undertake local dispersal and establish surface dens - can form aggregations <10 snakes.

Today 28/03 Nine males on hibernation bank Hartland Moor NNR; also 6 males grouped close together at Norden, a site near Corfe Castle.

Five adult females also out today, several still had a coating of clay adhering to body.

Have just heard from Ian Evans in Sutherland that early emergence of March 03 is exceptional - past years have been early April.

 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 28 Mar 2003 Topic: Smooth snake sightings 2003



 

10/03  -  Imm Male Studland NNR (recapture)

18/03  - Adult Male Furzebrook Nr Wareham (recapture)

27/03  - Imm male Matchams Nr Bournemouth

28/03  - Imm Male Hartland Moor NNR

All basking half concealed in heather




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 28 Mar 2003 Topic: Sand Lizard Identification and Sightings



 

27 March  Adult Male sand lizard now very much in evidence.

                Some 'greener' than others but nowhere as intense as breeding green. Some Males have hardly any green showing, so look carefully if you are in sand lizard country - females are also out in good numbers. Male has much more 'chunky' head.

Also last years young - in Dorset obvious size difference between early (normal) broods and young from second clutches.

Total sand lizards seen today.

Studland NNR 12 males 4 females 5 immature

Hartland Moor NNR 8 males 2 immature

Matchams Nr Bournemouth 13 males 2 females 5 immature

Others-smooth snake - 9 adders - grass snake- 8 slow worms 6 common liz




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 28 Mar 2003 Topic: Inbreeding depression



Its getting late - just a word on smooth snake movement - I will respond to other aspects later regarding adder etc.

Dave Bird and I work in the same area with the same species, more or less.

On one site where Dave is working he captures different smooth snakes on most occassions. i.e. very few recaptures. On two of my sites I regularly catch the same snakes over and over again. Some now for two decades or more. This does not necessarily mean that they are sedentary. Two males regularly forage 400m to wet heath from their 'tin' and return to digest their meal - and then repeat the process - they also retire under their tins when moulting. One male has now used the same tin for nine years.

There is also a definite male bias with regard sex ratio in most of the populations that I have studied. Interestingly, about 30% of a population is made up of immature snakes>30cm. compared to Adder populations that I am currently studying which exhibit just 10% immatures of the total population. 

I have my doubts about translocations - mainly because receptor sites are rarely monitored - lack of funds? or just not considered within a budget?

Currently just starting DNA Micochondrial work to establish relationships between adder populations. Adders exhibit a 100% fidelity to their site and are sensitive to changes, even subtle ones, in their habitat. A classic example comes from the work of a colleague, Wolfgang Volkl. One hibernations site in the German highlands was destroyed, not by people, but by one nights foraging by wild boar!

Tony Phelps - Reptile Research & Imagery

 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 29 Mar 2003 Topic: Damage to key refugia



Dave and myself (and others) have expressed concern in recent times re the excessive level of 'management' on some important sites.

A photo is worth a 1000 words as they say - but my scanner is bust.

Gemma - I am going to send you some photos of recent management that has severly damaged key sites on SSSIs and NNRs.

One such site is  edited by administrator situated at Hartland Moor NNR and managed by Nat Trust under EN guidance.

Walked around this morning - 22 sand lizard lying around with very little cover - good news for crows and buzzards. Also five adder, one large female outside a rabbit hole with just bracken stubble for cover.

More when get photos.

 

Tony




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 31 Mar 2003 Topic: Early adder sightings



 

Purbeck today - 2 male adders moulted - this was alwys first or second week in April, and many still adhere to this date, but it means that the spring male moult is less synchronised than it was say five years ago.

Females out in force now. Some quite thin, but most in good condition.

More grass snakes mating today 2male on one female.

Sand lizard males active and mate searching, about 70% of one population are 'greened' up. Females basking, never more than half a metre from burrow and usually well concealed.

I think the TV weatherperson said warmest March day since records began.

I recorded 21deg at 1500 today.

Will be in Surrey for a few days - reptile survey and translocation




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 04 Apr 2003 Topic: Common Frog Identification & Sightings



04/04 Garden pond - Swanage, frogs still very active, new spawn and tadpoles in pond roughly 1mX1m. 18 adult frogs counted

Garden Pond Lulworth Cove Frogs still active, spawn and tadpoles. Lovely garden, grass snakes and slow worms, also adders on a nearby bank. Residents (people) very reptile/amphibian friendly.

Longham Nr Ferndown Frogspawn(6 clumps) in pond in wood, no adults visible

 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 04 Apr 2003 Topic: Early adder sightings



Adders can be seen any time of year in theory - strangely enough I see more grass snakes and slow worms 'off season'.

Grass snakes mate earlier than adders, at least five matings observed this year. Sand lizards mating/males wandering around in earnest. These males cover a lot of ground in a day when mate-searching but the following morning can usually be seen basking at 'usual' spot.

More male adders have moulted, a fresh moult male seen crossing road at Hartland today. Several last years baby adders spotted. (well concealed).

Lots of very small juvenile sand lizards at several sites, means that a good number of second broods have survived.

Tony

 

 

 

 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 04 Apr 2003 Topic: Grass Snake Mating



Mating - if you are fortunate to come across grass snakes mating have a good look at their size of some of the males - some are tiny compared to the females - not sure but some males definitely mating at what would be their third season - being slender a 40cm grass snake will appear much smaller than an adder of equal length.

You may see just one male on to one female - but the 'scramble' strategy is more common than we think. Mating balls appear to occur in certain areas, I know where you can see this on at least three sites in Purbeck and a really cracking site in the Mendips.

One female in company with four males today had a large bulge at mid body so grass snakes, if not female adders certainly feed before mating.

 

Tony




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 05 Apr 2003 Topic: Smooth snake sightings 2003



Dead adult female(flattened) on Slepe Road Hartland (52cm)

Retained for DNA sample

Adult Male (62cm) Purbeck Nr Wareham 9th year of recapture, interestingly recently fed. Uunder tin).

Immature male (25cm) Wareham Forest - basking in open.

Adult male (55cm) Wareham Forest - baskong in open 3rd year of recapture.




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 05 Apr 2003 Topic: Male aggregations



Nine males under one tin today at Hartland - tin very hot


Tony Phelps
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Posted: 06 Apr 2003 Topic: Dancing Adders



Hope you took some pics Stuart!

Were the males of equal size? You can bet the female was close by. hidden most like - weather was cloudy and cool in Purbeck.

All males have moulted at one long term study area near Corfe Castle. Today, one old male (22yrs) was mate-guarding a female, she is brick red and 65cm and 25yrs. The old male, who is 62cm suddenly whizzed off the female and met another male head on, a straw-coloured 55cm 12yr old and chased him for about ten metres. The female never moved and it took the old male fifteen minutes to return and resume his guarding position. These two males have had 'proper'combat in previous years, don't know why 'straw' gave in so easily - but early days yet. The big males here are so efficient when guarding females I am sure that multiple matings on this site anyway are unlikely.

On same site - another old female very good condition, and only 50 metres away from the above, but no males in attendance. 

Tony

 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 06 Apr 2003 Topic: Smooth snake sightings 2003



Hartland around mid day cloudy strong breeze.

Adult male U/tin

Adult female concealed basking

(Photo ID's for you Dave - on you patch).




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 08 Apr 2003 Topic: Sand Lizard Identification and Sightings



Was watching male sand lizard mate-searching today, 1500, NrWareham.

An immature common lizard turned up and the sand lizard chased it and seized it by the tail, the tail was cast, and the sand lizard ate it. Just shows they do have more than sex on their mind at this time of year.

Tony  




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 10 Apr 2003 Topic: Smooth snake sightings 2003



Have been working in Surrey/Hants for the last few days.

Left for Dorset this morning, in a blizzard at Guildford! On the way home decided to check on some old sites of mine near Frensham. At one site, there was still a dusting of snow on the heather, found two male smooth snakes.

Both photo ID'd   Both were basking - air temp was just 8deg but where the sun had warmed the ground - <16deg.

1st male - 55cm TL - wt 38g  2nd male 62cm  TL wt 54g

also male sand lizard (this is not a reintro site). 

No other species sighted.

Records passed on to HCT Mike P.

 

Tony




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 12 Apr 2003 Topic: Damage to key refugia



Have just returned from my study site in the Mendips. This is my twelvth year on this site and the heather has depleted by about 40% during that time. It is a cracking adder spot, also grass snakes. But it is also popular with walkers, mountain bikers, and horseriders. There is also a problem with pine shading. Today there were two mating pairs but also three males unmoulted. One of the females is one of my original records from twelve years ago, she looked fine. The male was also a known snake from five years ago.

The other female of the mating pair was very small, first time breeder, and there was a similar size female nearby. Also spotted another recapture from eight years ago, a non-breeding female.

In my estimation this site will be gone in ten years. Somerset ARG know of this site but I will urge them on and see if something can be done. It really needs fencing off, (the public would be up in arms about that no doubt.) a few pines removed, and others brashed.

 

Tony Phelps 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 13 Apr 2003 Topic: Dubious Consultants and Dodgy Councils



Martin

Sounds so very very familiar. I too, I am sure, am appreciated for my 'nuisance value' by those that should know better. i.e. (The 'Professionals).

 

Cheers

 

Tony




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 16 Apr 2003 Topic: Grass Snake Identification & Sightings



April 12

Mendips  -  Grass snakes mating - 2 males + female other males nearby

April 15 Chobham Very warm and sunny

2 nice size females, one basking on side of path est 85cm

other moving casually across parh in shade nicely marked est 80cm

also another male I think (ask Gareth M. he was with me)

Frensham stil very warm biggie female moving slowly across path 127cm

very aggressive - got sprayed - don't really mind the smell, get used to it I suppose. The wife thinks differently, had to eat dinner in garden with the dog.

April 16 2 nice size males, 70cm & 75cm at a rescue site in Hampshire Nr Fleet.

Tony

 




Tony Phelps
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Posted: 16 Apr 2003 Topic: Damage to key refugia



Paranoid & Pessimistic

The school holidays are here and we have had a good start to the heath fire season, including 20 acres of HCT site. HCT staff made a vitriolic attack on East Dorset Council re lack of management re firebreaks which wwer supposed to have been agreed and done some time ago.

Coming down the M3 M27 made it quite clear that the hordes are on their way. I pray for rain, but I think it will be 1976 all over again (and Southampton have a chance at the cup), is this De ja vu?

If any of you are down this way this weekend keep a good eye out, idiots with stoves, having barbies on the side of the road, yes it does happen.

But especially kids around urban heathland. We should now be geared up to tackle suspects, but just ring 999, fire first cops 2nd.

 

Tony 




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