I am Jane and I am a Reptile Novice

‘Getting your eye in’ to spot wildlife which is often quick, well camouflaged or elusive requires a little bit of training. Here, Jane Daniels explains how through being a Revealing Reptile Volunteer she started seeing habitats in a different light:

“I joined the Revealing Reptile Project having landed in County Durham totally ignorant of the fact that reptiles are on my doorstep.

Attending the first meeting I felt swamped by professionals – all very friendly – who seemed to know all there was to know about each species and had fantastic photos and videos of adders and other reptiles.

On the round of introductions I remember saying ‘I’m Jane and I’m a novice’ …. whilst wondering if I’d ever make the grade!

However …. after a few training sessions and getting to know habitats I was rewarded with a sighting – an adder on my birthday- one freezing cold February day. Keeping my reaction calm was difficult (but all part of learning), subsequent sightings have stayed around longer than that first one, so I am able to admire from a distance.

My first solo sighting was of a juvenile common lizard and I will never forget the moment. Having been fixed on a spot for several minutes the realisation (and disbelief!) that by looking deeper still there was the prize. A magic moment. We were out-staring each other – I was elated and felt I’d graduated at last!

Patience and a love of the outdoors are really the only requirements following training, but a pair of binoculars helps.

The times spent purposefully herping* have all become treasured memories and my choice of walk locations is more tailored for sightings – thanks John and for all the friendships along the way.🙂”

Although the Revealing Reptile Project came to an end a year ago now, the project legacy runs on. One of the many outcomes of the two years, was the production of a “revealing” booklet which mapped the distribution of our three common reptiles, the adder, common lizard and slowworm. These distribution maps are the result of volunteers recording many sightings over the two years and is, as a result, a valuable data base of information providing an indication on how these reptiles are faring in County Durham.

Please keep recording your sightings, follow the link to the online form



*Herping is the act of searching for amphibians or reptiles. The term, often used by professional and amateur herpetologists, comes from the word “herp”, which comes from the same Greek root as herpetology, herpet-, meaning “creeping”.