The Revealing Reptiles Project
…was a Heritage Lottery Funded venture ran through Durham Wildlife Trust between September 2016 and 2018.
The aims of the project were to establish verified records of reptiles across the vice county 66 region which includes County Durham, Gateshead and Sunderland boroughs which encapsulate South Tyneside.
The production of this atlas is the result of work carried out by a dedicated project officer and a team of trained volunteers who gave their time to survey across the region over the two seasons that the project ran for.
It is hoped this atlas and the resulting knowledge of our regions herpetofauna distribution can help towards better land management practices being adopted throughout the area.
Social media and events held through the region have helped to promote knowledge and awareness of our reptiles in order for the general public to better cope with the presence of reptiles as through knowledge comes respect.
OVERVIEW OF DISTRIBUTION
With the lizards and adder being the most likely reptiles to be found in the North East their distribution has been well documented both historically and during the term of the Revealing Reptiles Project.
Between the uplands of the dales and the coastal strip lies a large area of lowland farm and urban sprawl. Both these have contributed to compacting reptile distribution. Small pockets of habitat which become unconnected to others simply can not accommodate reptiles in significant numbers, in order to retain population health. Hence they become isolated which leads to inbreeding and eventual collapse of the population.
The fear for grass snakes is that continued loss of nest sites will lead to their eventual extinction from the region.
As the only egg layer among our widespread UK reptile species, the grass snake requires nesting sites, such as compost or farm yard waste heaps, to be created and above all maintained year after year. These reptiles are very loyal to nest sites and females return throughout their lives to lay eggs.
FUTURE OF REPTILES IN THE REGION
The only hope for reptiles in the region and across the UK is sympathetic habitat management in the areas where they occur. If possible an improvement in habitat creation which can increase connectivity between known locations to help increase genetic diversity.
Awareness of reptiles among the public and a less aggressive stance towards the adder in particular from media and the general public may perhaps help with reversing a decline in some areas of these fascinating animals.
Joint projects among land owners to increase habitat features for grass snakes may also help to encourage what few animals remain to increase in number once again.
Perhaps a designated study into the possibility of a reintroduction scheme will prove successful and allow this stunning creature to regain a foothold in our region.
Project officer John Robson Grundy would like to thank the following for their help in getting this project together and keeping it going.
- Heritage Lottery Fund for the grant help to start the project.
- Durham Wildlife Trust for their vision in getting this project going.
- Northumbrian Water for sponsorship and allowing us access to some of their sites for surveying.
VOLUNTEERS FOR ALL YOUR REPTILE RECORDS
Jane Daniels, Karen & Allen Blackburn, David Land, Ian Graham, Ian & Elaine Burnell, David & Ros Clucas, Caleb Leek, Sean Foster, Malcolm Wilkinson, Duncan Scott, Bob Robson, Phil Andrews, Tony Copeland, Daniel Clucas, Pam Turnbull, Lillian Hegarty, David Phillips, Keith Fryer, Anne Porter, Mike Powell, Kathryn Rutherford, Craig Strawbridge, Anne Quigly, Kenny Gill, Gareth Nixon, Lesley Mountain, David Robson, Kyle Dettmer, Alex Shaw, Alix Murray, Bob Matthews, Thom Linley, Judith Barnett, George Lodger, Lynda Bentley, Graeme Barkess, Melissa Young, Gerry Ruffles, Lesley Hodgson, Gwyneth Healey, Tony Devos, Angus Lothian, Mark O’keefe, Matthew McNeice, Victoria Telford, Vince Audsley, Nick Brischuk, Ross Cordiner, Matthew davison.
VOLUNTEERS FOR ATTENDING TRAINING AND SERVEY EVENTS
Edward Lewis, Michael Coates, Max Henderson, Josh Harfoot, Rodger Clubely, Emily Iveson, Phillipa Green, Ian Walby, Lisa Daniels, Kim toggery, Graeme Barkess, Brian Pearson, Jack Casson, Ian Hunter, Nik & Brenda Steggall, Cat Green, Sarah Donnelly, Andrew Tinmouth, Gillan Gibson, Philip jordan, John Reid, Clare Rwcliffe, Nicola Milburn, Rachel Galler, Oisin Macnamara, Jane Gray, Philp Jordan, Claire dewson, Andrew Bewick, Brian Smith, Christopher Bell, Camilla Lauren Maatta, Verna & Geoff Atkinson, Gareth Nixon, Vivien Rattray, Marg Young, Neil & Elizabeth Clowes, Val Standen, Jan Durham, Gemma Cone, Zoe Hull, Jan Scott, Nick Kendall, Phillips Pearson, Kirsty Pollard, Jenny Lowdon.