Surveying amphibians and reptiles

On Friday the weather forecast had given sun so the North Wales Amphibian and reptile officer and myself headed for the North Wales coast in the hope of surveying sand lizards.

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Annoyingly as we arrived at the coastal sand dunes the sun disappeared behind a blanket of cloud.  We needed the sun to come out for a bit so as to warm the basking areas so we could hopefully spot a sand lizard coming out of one of its holes in the sand to get warm in the sun.

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It looked however, like there could be a small break in the clouds coming up shortly so we walked to the beach while we waited. It’s amazing how much gets washed up on shore.  There seemed to be a lot of sea urchins and razor shells along the tide line.

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Suddenly we saw the sun about to poke out from behind the clouds and we walked back towards the dunes.  As we walked through the dune system we suddenly started to notice tiny little paw prints in the bare sand.  A stoat maybe??

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To my amazement, I also saw quite a few fungi in the sand dunes.  I never realised before that fungi would grow in such an environment.

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We found a good spot for watching sand lizards and we waited with our binoculars ready.  Using binoculars is a great way to observe the sand lizards from a distance without disturbing.  Unfortunately the clouds once again hid the sun so no sand lizards to be seen.

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When we realised that the sun wasn’t coming out we decided to visit the special natterjack toad areas to check the refugia there for signs of wildlife.

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Although I never saw any natterjack toads I did see a number of frogs and I especially liked an unusual dark honey coloured one we found.

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We found a number of beautiful smooth newts,

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and I even spotted a slug laying eggs in a hole.

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Even better still, I found and got to hold my first common lizard.  He was stunning and quick moving.  He had dug himself a little area to rest in under the refugia so after I had said hello to him, I placed him back safely.

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Even though I didn’t find the sand lizards I had originally wanted to see, I still had the most fantastic day surrounded by nature.

(For more photos of my amphibian and reptile survey head over to my Facebook page here )

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