Britain's rarest reptile, the smooth snake, is only found in a handful of southern English counties. Heathland loss during the 20th century has seen them disappear from whole counties such as Devon. However, a project coordinated by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) has been reintroducing smooth snakes to a heathland nature reserve in Devon.
CGO Ecology has been tasked with moving a population of reptiles to save them from a quarry development. Several hundred common lizards and a small number of grass snakes are expected in the capture exercise that will take place in July 2010. The reptiles occupy an area of pasture and quarry slopes at the Headon china clay quarry complex near Cornwood on the southwest edge of Dartmoor. A new phase of quarry working means they will have to be moved to a restored slope adjacent to the nearby Portsworthy works, where gorse removal has increased the habitat's carrying capacity for reptiles.
CGO Ecology has a new employee, Sarah Atkinson, who has joined us an an Ecologist on a short-term contract to work on the A338 Spur Road reptile translocation. Sarah graduated from Plymouth University in 2008 with a BSc (Hons) in Wildlife Conservation.
Major building works planned at Seaford College, West Sussex, have necessitated the translocation of a population of slow-worms. The school has an impressive walled garden, thought to be Elizabethan, which is somewhat overgrown around the edges. This currently provides ideal habitat for a population of slow-worms.
Forty-eight years since Rachel Carson's seminal book "Silent Spring" awoke the world to the devastation that developed countries were causing to their native wildlife, a new book examines whether things have got any better or worse.
CGO Ecology Ltd would like to welcome a new member of staff. Mike Hobby was employed as Assistant Ecologist in mid-March 2010, and will be working with us over the coming months. He has previously worked for CGO Ecology on a self-employed basis, assisting our reptile translocation work at the Weymouth Olympics park & ride scheme in 2008. He is currently working primarily on the A338 Spur Road reptile translocation. Mike hails from Pyle in Mid-Glamorgan, South Wales.
For many years now, chytrid fungus has been devastating amphibian populations around the world, and caused the extinction of some species. Global concern has grown as more species head towards extinction, particularly in the tropics, but also in temperate latitudes. An ongoing research project conducted by the Institute of Zoology, London, is receiving fresh impetus this year with the employment of researcher Freya Smith to examine the spread of chytrid in the UK, and on the possibility of our amphibians being adversely affected by it.
Now that spring is finally upon us (more or less), reptile capture work on the A338 can resume. CGO Ecology Ltd has spent this week preparing and laying 11,000 roofing felt refugia for reptiles on the Spur Road verges.
After what has been one of the coldest and snowiest winters in the UK in living memory, spring should be just around the corner. As we move into March, the ecological consultancy calendar starts to become very full. CGO Ecology Ltd is based in Bournemouth, Dorset on the south coast of England, but works across the UK. Our immediate diary commitments include a rapidly-filling programme of springtime survey and mitigation works.