Reptile: ecology, survey and mitigation course 23rd September 2015
Recently we ran a reptile course for professionals which was taught by Nigel Hand, a specialist in reptile ecology, who has worked on numerous projects including the National UK adder DNA project for ZSL Institute of Zoology & Natural England and adder radio telemetry for Forestry Commission & Malvern Hills Conservators. The aim of the course was to introduce participants to the ecology of UK reptiles, survey techniques for different species and the most suitable mitigation for reptiles in different situations.
Outdoor site visit
The course began at a site on the edge of the black mountains in Herefordshire, a long-term monitored and managed the site for a range of species including reptiles. Here the course participants were given the chance to observe reptiles in the field as well as the conservation measures that have been implemented for reptiles on the site.
Nigel introducing participants to the site
While completing a circuit of the site and observing the different habitats and refugia the site has to offer for reptiles, Nigel talked about the effectiveness of different survey techniques including; tinning, bitumen felts and simple sight surveys.
Purpose built refugia on Ewyas Harold Common
During refugia checks we were lucky enough to come across two adders, one adult male and one adult female, which gave Nigel the opportunity to demonstrate how to identify an adders sex and how to handle adders in a way which causes the least harm to the snake and the handler.
Adult male adder Haydn handling an adult female adder
Following a hefty lunch, we moved on to the next venue for the afternoon presentation. The classroom session covered a range of information and began with the basics by ensuring all participants were aware of the six species of reptile in the UK, their conservation status and distribution. The presentation then moved on to more specialist information about survey techniques including; ideal timing and how to identify potential habitat, hibernacula and features for all species. Nigel finished the presentation talking about how to mitigate and compensate for reptile habitat loss with the use of barriers and exclusion, selection of receptor sites and long term management options.
A Q and A session concluded the course and were a great way to discuss problems encountered personally by members of the group and to get some advice from Nigel.
Overall, the course was a success as our participants got the chance to observe reptiles and their preferred habitat in the field and gain more detailed knowledge of reptile surveys and mitigation during the indoor session. It was a very interesting and enjoyable day. We would like to thank Nigel for leading such an informative course and the participants for attending.
We regularly hold ecological courses aimed to improve identification skills. Click here to see the full list of our scheduled Ecological Training courses for 2015, or find out more on what is involved in our courses from on our previous course blog article Phase 1 habitat survey course.