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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Hazleton Common, Horndean - a cracking site for reptiles!

I have visited Hazleton Common (LNR) three times between the 18th and 24th Sept - primarily on the lookout for reptiles and in particular the notable population of "black adder" (Vipera Berus) which are recorded here.

The site is just shy of 16 hectares, containing large areas of open "acid grassland", three ponds, waterlogged grassland and a couple of small areas of ancient woodland. Described as a "habitat in transition" the acid grassland has been managed to promote gorse and heather (Horndean Biodiversity Action Plan). These two plants can be found in particular towards the southern end of the site, as you walk towards the ponds.

The site contains four of the six native species of reptile, and the largest pond has records for great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) (Horndean Biodiversity Action Plan).

I found all four reptile species, but did not look for the GCN. Only a single black adder was seen on the 24th. By the end of the three visits I encountered a minimum of 8 slow worm (Anguis fragilis), 2 grass snake (Natrix natrix), 5 adder and a couple of common lizard (Lacerta vivipara). A good haul, although I have to be content with a single record shot of the black adder, as it disappears into bramble scrub.

slow worm
common lizard
Adder
heather (Calluna vulgaris)
black adder (record shot)

the three ponds

small copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

speckled wood (Pararge aegeria)

Other mobile species noted over the course of the visits included: small copper and speckled wood butterfly; ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) and southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea).

Bibliography

Horndean Biodiversity Action Plan can be found at: Horndean Biodiversity Action Plan

Horndean Biodiversity Group can be found at: Horndean Biodiversity Group