It is encouraging to see that Amphibian and Reptile Conservation's "Add an Adder" recording campaign (www.adder.org.uk) is still going strong after six years. In this time it has gathered well over 4,000 records of adder sightings - past and present - from members of the public. The website shows a map of recent adder sightings (green dots) and those that are probably now extinct (red dots).
Spring isn't quite here yet, and there's undoubtedly plenty more cold miserable weather to come, but there are already signs of the reptiles waking up. Reports have come in today from Chris Dresh (ARC Dorset Field Officer) of a sand lizard at Great Ovens Hill and an adder at Lytchett Heath in Dorset. Reports of early adders have also come in from Gower in South Wales and Anglesey in North 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.