A search for reptiles in early April in Central Scotland can sometimes be a bit of a lost cause for the herpetologist. On arrival at Loch Chon a light mist and the promise of strong sunshine later meant that John Sweeney and I were confident that we would see something but we thought best to wait a while for things to warm up first. Whilst waiting our optimism was increased when we spotted an Osprey flying over us, surely if the Osprey’s were back then there must be reptiles about as well!
Our early optimism proved to be justified as on lifting the first in-situ refugia (a piece of old boarding/door) we found a superb male Slow-worm curled up beneath. With our hopes high we went on to check the artificial refugia, finding to our delight another three slow-worms, including two more than 30cm in length in near perfect condition. Clearly the harsh winter hasn’t impacted Trossachs slow-worms; but what about the other ‘common’ Scottish reptiles? Surely they should be found in this habitat as well?
Female slow-worm looking a bit puzzled ! photos: John Sweeney
Our second site nearby was similar habitat (bog with some heathy vegetation and scattered bracken), so potentially good for all three common species. By now the sun was getting hot and not only warming up the reptiles! After a slog across the bog to our disappointment we only found one further slow-worm curled up under an artificial refuge, plus a lightning-fast (by slow-worm standards) common lizard, which John had previously recorded at this site.
Don't be shy Dave - it won't bite !
Male and female
So in summary, it’s not necessarily the ‘early birds’ that capture the worms but maybe the early birds capture the lizards!
Emma Downie, CARG Secretary