US social scientist Kenneth Boulding : ‘If you believe exponential growth can go on in a finite world, you are either a madman or an economist’.

Friday, 19 June 2009

18/6/09: Here be Dragons ... and Toads

Common Lizards and Common Toads, both now UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species because of a worrying decline in numbers, occur on the Grasmere Rd. allotment site in Barnehurst. Both were seen there today. The site was once an orchard and has remnant heathland vegetation, including Pedunculate Oak, Silver Birch, Gorse, Broom and Bracken. A third UK BAP species, the Slow Worm, is found in my garden less than 100 metres away, but I have never found one on the allotments, despite searching suitable in places.

Yeah, we know you're watching us - we're watching you too

Here a pair of Common Lizards (Zootoca (Lacerta) vivipara) enjoy some habitat enhancement in the form of an old tyre, part-buried in the ground, with a 'bolt-hole' / possible hibernation facility excavated underneath at the rear, and bits of broken brick and rubble - also found on site - and a clump of grass put in the middle.

Last autumn I found four lizards on this tyre at once. Tyres are known to be lizard 'magnets' because they warm up quickly and retain some heat so are ideal for basking/raising body temperature, especially in cooler and changeable weather.

Here's a closer view of one of them - not pin-sharp because my mobile phone cam has trouble knowing exactly where to focus in this sort of shot.

Surrounding gardens are unlikely to provide suitable lizard habitat, so it's likely this is an 'island' population that has survived here since the site became hemmed in by houses in around 1933.

And here's a two inch body length young toad. A couple of larger ones were seen recently. Numbers are never high here, but specimens keep turning up, so there must be a breeding pond not too far away. There isn't one on the site.

Juvenile Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

Other amphibian species here are the Common Frog and Smooth Newt. The latter has bred in a pond made from an old bath.

No comments:

Post a Comment