This is not a scientific analysis but here are some observations about this year’s Taf Fechan reptile surveys.
There were 23 surveys completed this year which was, for various reasons, somewhat less than last year’s 33. The survey season didn’t get off to a great start when a grass fire was set on the slope sometime before the 19th April but looking at the survey results this didn’t seem to drastically affect numbers (at least not immediately although I am sure some reptiles perished in the flames) as a survey on the 19th found 22 slow worms (including some very much alive under refuges in the burnt area) which was broadly similar to results before the fire and the next few surveys after the fire were also similar. I think we were lucky that no refuges were burnt and the fire didn’t affect a larger part of the slope.
The numbers dropped off considerably however during the early part of May and continued to be very low until July which saw a spike in numbers and then they dropped off again failing to get above double figures right up until the surveys ended in late September.
We also changed the refuges from roofing felt to corrugated roofing tiles around the 5th of May which looking at the results may have had a much greater effect on survey numbers (the largest single survey result from last year with the old sheets was 42 slow worms this year it was 22) perhaps they didn’t like their new refuges as much or they were just put off by the new smells and the unfamiliarity of them but this is just an observation and may not be in any way connected. It will be interesting to see what happens next year.
The results for Common lizards however were much more stable with results being broadly comparable with last years, the largest single survey number being 7 both on the 14th May and the 3rd of June.
Graham Watkeys Volunteer Warden Taf Fechan