Monday, 16 June 2014

Latest Sightings - June

A few images from the last week or so surveying in the Forest of Dean.

Taken from 4 different sites.

Male adder

Juvenile adder basking on a tree stump

Juvenile adder

Mature female adder

Grass snake

Female adder

Female adder in the grass

Male adder basking on a log

Sloughed (shed) grass snake skin

Please help us map and protect our heprtiles by uploading all your reptile and amphibian sightings to our record pool, via our GlosARG website HERE

Thank you


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Latest Survey - Saturday 7th June 2014

I've been surveying like mad, taking advantage of the nice weather, just like our reptiles.

2014 is proving to be a great year so far for our snakes in Forest of Dean and I hope it continues.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

Total snakes recorded from two sites...

Adder - X12
Grass snake - X5

Female Adder

Grass snake

Juvenile Adder

Male Adder

Male Adder

Male Adder

Female Adder

Visit GlosARG and support us by following the links below...


Monday, 2 June 2014

Snakes 2014

Apologies for not keeping this blog updated. I've had a lot going on, but it doesn't mean I haven't been out there surveying Gloucestershire.
We "GlosARG" have already completed two events so far this year for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in the form of a talk and a survey training event in Stroud, which both sold out and went really well.

Onto the snakes...

As the adder is in serious decline throughout the UK it is always an anxious time, just before you start seeing the snakes emerge from hibernation.
Thankfully all of my sites (bar one) are producing healthy populations and to top it off we have also identified a new reptile location. Below are the findings from one recent survey at this new site.

Adder (male) X2
Adder (female) X1
Slow-worm X2
Common lizard 50+

Speechless, but it proves that there are still many undiscovered areas out there, waiting to be discovered. All you need to do is get your feet on the ground and find them.
We can now monitor this site and help protect it.

If you would like to get involved, please follow this link to GlosARG
We're on FB too!

Below are some images from March to date. I have seen quite a few grass snakes, but not had the opportunity to photograph one just yet.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

1st Adder of 2013 - At Long Last!

It has felt like and age and I was starting to think that the winter weather was never going to leave (well the Forest of Dean anyway).
Then, on Saturday 30th March the sun came out and for a change I wasn't at work, so with Scott Passmore (GlosARG compatriot), I grabbed the camera and headed to our first of three survey areas for the day.
Within 10 minuets of being at the first sight we found our first adder (Vipera berus) of 2013!

GlosARG 1st Adder of 2013 

Unfortunately, this was the last sighting in this area and this was disappointing as this is by far, one of the best areas that we know of.

The other two sites were fruitless, but as we didn't see any lizards of slow-worms either, the lad in the photo above must be the rebel of the area as he was last to go in and first to come out!

GlosARG on Facebook HERE

GlosARG Website HERE


Sunday, 30 September 2012

New Website - Check it Out!

My new website is now up and running, check it out here -
Massive thanks to Scott Passmore for his time, building this site for me.

Don't worry, I will still keep this blog updated with all things snake related in the Forest of Dean.


Friday, 31 August 2012

Full Survey Results (with photos)

Full Survey Results From New Reptile Site - 31.08.2012

Had loads to do at home, but the reptiles always come first and as the sun was shining I had to get back out there to complete a full survey of the new site.
I was accompanied by my nephew and good mate Paul Skelton who logged every single find for me while I tried my best to grab a photo. Thanks mate!

At times it sounded something like this....

"Adder" - "Big Un" - "Female" - "click, click" - "And Another" - "Male" - "Monster" - "click click"

If anyone was walking up the nearby path I expect they were dialling 999!

So, without boring you will any more silliness, here are the pics from today. PS: I will have to film my surveying one day, just to give you a giggle, but to also show how it's done.

Total Findings Below

Male Adder - 4
Female Adder - 6
Jevenile Adder - 2
Grass Snake - 2
Slow-worm - 3
Common Lizard - 27

Click on all photographs for larger view

Firstly, here is a photograph of what we had to contend with. Surveying in areas like this can be extremely hard due to the long grass, which makes finding reptiles even harder.
All photographs are straight out of the camera, how I saw them and how they are meant to be seen.

Survey Area


Here are a couple of slow-worms. I could have easily moved them for a better photograph, but I never do this as I like to walk away knowing they have not been disturbed. The same goes for the snakes.
As mentioned earlier, these photographs are for illustration and record purposes only, I was not there to get an award winning shot.




Tell tale signs were around and this sloughed adder skin was a sure sign that an adder was not far away.

Sloughed Female Adder Skin

This male adder was basking at the bottom of a small grassy bank. Quite a large male, but not the biggest of the day.

Male Adder

You may have noticed in the previous photograph that there was a hole in the grass to the side of the male adder. If you did, well done as this is where he will bolt down if a possible threat appears. Among other predators, buzzards take adders, so this is a quick escape route for him.

Bolt Hole with Male Adder
This fella was humongous, easily the largest male adder I have seen in a long time, if not the largest ever. Hard to get a true scale of how big he actually was, but believe me, he was big!

Large Male Adder

I have already mentioned how hard it can be surveying in long grass and this illustrates it perfectly.
Now click on the photograph and look to the bottom of the frame. You will notice a male adder in the grass and I was kneeling not far from him when I took this shot, totally missed him and only realised he was there when I uploaded my pics to the PC!
So focused on the one I could see, I forgot to check for others. School boy error!

Male and Female Adders

Here is another female coiled up like a turban.

Female Adder

This is a female adder preparing to slough (shed her skin). You will notice that her eye has turned blue and this is where fluid is building up between the new inner and old outer skin layers. The fluid helps the skin peel off.
A snakes eye is covered by a scale and as this is part of the skin, it also comes away. As the old eye scale lifts it severely impairs the snakes vision.

Adder preparing to slough

This is something a little different; a young female adder basking in, or rather on a gorse bush. Over the millennia snakes have come to realise that habitat like gorse and bramble is one of the safest places to live and bask as not many predators can get to them.

Young Female Adder 

Slightly different angle and zoomed in to show how she is perched on the gorse and bramble.

Close Up of same adder


Too many lizards to photograph, but here are just a few. The lizard is a main part of the adder and grass snakes diet, so no wonder there are loads of snakes around as we counted 27 lizards in total, with loads missed as you never see them all.

Common Lizard
If you look to the right of this shot you will notice a cylindrical stripy body. This is the body of a large grass hopper and it looks like this lizard has it's eye on it!
This site is so well balanced and it shows just how the decline in one species (like the grass hopper) could have serious consequences right up, and down the food chain!
No grass hoppers means less lizards and less lizards means less snakes - Oops!

Common Lizard and Grass Hopper

Common Lizard

Common Lizard


Last but by no means least, the grass snake. We recorded two on this visit; one didn't hang around, but we saw this one in plenty of time.

Grass snake basking

I managed to get a little closer and with the zoom this is her, basking in the grass. They are hard to find and even harder to photograph, so I am pleased with this result.

Same grass snake, up close

What a day and well worth the effort. If you would like to get involved and help manage habitats like this, survey, or just record while someone else surveys, please do get in touch.

GlosARG is Gloucestershire's very own Reptile and Amphibian Conservation Group and we are here to help you get involved. Young or mature, we welcome all.

Visit us at the following links or just email me direct.


Rob :-)

New Reptile Habitat Discovered

Great news for Gloucestershire as GlosARG has discovered a new unique reptile habitat!

Scott Passmore and I (Founders of GlosARG) decided to survey a new location on Thursday 30th August and we were stunned by what we found.
In just 30 minuets of surveying we found the following...

Mature Female Adder - x3
Mature Male Adder - x1
Juvenile Adder - x1
Mature Grass Snake - x2
Common Lizard - x6
Slow-worm - x2

It goes without saying that this is a "significant discovery", especially as we only had 30 minuets due to time restrictions.
We only covered a very small area where this habitat is concerned and we are confident that when thoroughly surveyed, this site will produce upwards of 20 snakes. In fact we are confident that this could be one of the most important discoveries in the Gloucestershire area for many years.
Due to this, I have contact the right people with the hope that this site is preserved and protected as a site of special interest, so that these remarkable reptiles can carry on thriving.

Why are there so many reptiles at this one site? The answer to that is quite simple. See list below.

  1. There is a healthy food source for all reptiles present
  2. Although the site is frequented regularly my members of the public, the habitat and therefore the reptiles themselves have been undisturbed
  3. Most importantly the corridors the reptiles use to move around have been undisturbed
To elaborate on the 3rd point; corridors are grassy rides, ditches, hedgerows and forest edges, which have not been cut off by walls, roads and building development, allowing these creatures to move around. This is vital, especially during the breeding season.
When an area is developed the construction companies sometimes leave a nature area, such as a small plot of woodland, field or park and these areas may have once been, or in some cases still are home to reptiles. Unlike the lizard, which is capable of climbing, our snakes and the slow-worm are not and are therefore isolated. Over time, due to inbreeding these animals become infertile and slowly die off; something that is now being seen and recorded throughout the whole of the UK.

We must stop this practice now and start to think greener, to protect all wildlife as once the concrete is down, the damage is irreversible.

Please support GlosARG by clicking the links below, thanks!