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How about an in-situ shot?

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Richard2 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 10:30am
To be sure, I telephoned Natural England this morning and asked what "disturb" meant, as used in the Act, and how the concept would apply specifically to watching wild Sand Lizards. I was told quite categorically that crouching down at the edge of a path to watch Sand Lizards would not constitute "disturbance" within the terms of the Act. I asked for absolute clarity on that. Making a movement while doing so that caused a lizard to run for cover would not constitute disturbance either. "Definitely not," I was told. "It's not illegal just to watch wildlife." What would constitute disturbance then? "Handling them or interfering with their burrows or something like that, if you haven't got a licence."

Richard
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 12:17pm
Or walking all over their habitat of course, which in itself is protected under the act ......

Richard the line is fairly obvious, watching them from a path is not disturbance. Getting more involved i.e. leaving paths and specifically trying to observe them easily could be. That is just the sort of activity most likely to be undertaken by members of this forum. I very much doubt the temptation would be resisted to do so after perhaps travelling for miles and with an obvious enthusiasm for observing the animals.

The reason this debate runs forever is simply those who do not have licences feel they need to justify that their own activities do not require one. The rest of us  will just get specific licences and get on with it all and wonder what on earth the fuss is all about.

Did you ask them if photography needed a licence? Clearly it does in some cases else they would not have published the guidance on the topic.

If  you read back carefully you will see NE have not contradicted anything said by Will or myself. Also again I will state clearly it will not be NE who decide when it is and is not disturbance. It will be a magistrate...


Edited by GemmaJF - 13 Dec 2013 at 12:24pm
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Richard2 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 2:59pm
Gemma,

It wasn't obvious to everyone at the beginning of the thread that watching from a path did not constitute disturbance. James M said "I can't go looking for these on my own as I don't have a licence". If the site in question has public footpaths on it, he can. Will said he thought there was a contradiction between the encouraging notice boards and the actual situation. According to NE, there isn't. And, with respect, you did not accept at first that watching from a path was not disturbance.

It's true that NE aren't exactly the arbiters of the law, but what is an ordinary chap to do except seek advice from the government agency that is clearly responsible for administering this whole area of policy. If they can't be expected to understand the law, who can? I find it inconceivable that anyone following clear NE advice that they had taken the trouble to ask for could be found guilty. 

Walking all over the habitat is of course another matter - much more likely to count as disturbance (though it does depend on what you mean by "all over"). You and I have reached some sort of agreed understanding, I think, though each of us is still inclined to want to edge it in our preferred direction.

I agree too that many of the people on this forum probably want to do more than watch from paths, and that if so they would be wise to get a licence if they can. I didn't ask about photography, since that isn't really my interest apart from the odd spontaneous snap, but I would agree with you that anyone wanting to make what you called staged shots should seek advice from NE or the reserve management first, and probably apply for a licence. But my strongest feeling is that our concern on this forum shouldn't only be with the people on the forum; that is, the well-informed enthusiasts. It should also be with general public awareness of these animals: their place in the culture. If we accept an unnecessarily pessimistic interpretation of the law, and thus allow the idea to get about that people without licences aren't even allowed to look at these animals, or go looking for them responsibly, then we will be placing the long term future of the animals more at risk, for an invisible animal is not one that people will care much about protecting. I believe in communities and individuals having as many connections to their local wildlife as possible. I think you do too.
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 3:25pm
In my opinion James said that because like me he is aware to actually go looking takes far more effort than walking down a path and expecting to see anything.

We might all expect at most sites it involves leaving paths and creeping around the habitat. An activity that could and probably will disturb animals at some point.

Nobody said people are not allowed to look at the animals. All that has ever been said is that if one is to take the next step and get in the least bit serious regarding observing and photography one ought to consider the licence issue. 

If you are lucky enough to have a site where it is easy to observe animals from a path (and believe me I know it is possible because one of the largest adder hibernacula locally is just such a place) then it is very unlikely doing so would ever be seen as any form of offence.

Step much further away from that though and it becomes a different game.

If I'm edging in a preferred direction it is simply one of my own experience. I know after years in the field is it very difficult to regularly observe reptiles without occasionally disturbing them. I also know in time the temptation to get just that little closer or investigate what is just that little bit off the beaten track can be extremely difficult to resist.

So to clarify. Does one need a licence to 'look at' a sand lizard, well clearly not. Does one need a licence to actively 'look for them' - in most circumstances, yes.



Edited by GemmaJF - 13 Dec 2013 at 3:30pm
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Richard2 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 5:14pm
There is only a smidgeon of difference between us now. The important thing as far as I am concerned is that people should not feel deterred from going to nature reserves to look. Studland is covered with footpaths, and I have many times seen Sand Lizards basking inches from those paths, and occasionally basking on them. The banks in places rise steeply immediately from the paths, forming a natural showcase. You have to go at the right time and get your eye in, that's all. It's not that easy everywhere, but I can think of several places where paths afford a very good view and there is no need to trample habitat.
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AGILIS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AGILIS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 6:12pm
I have been around herping before the Self appointed nat England lot who never even knew that reptiles existed on English soil and heathland and then started issuing permits, none of them were even born to make these bylaws when I was rescuing la and looking freely. Yes some bye laws are a good thing with todays declining colonies, Provided they also stop allowing certain sectors of society like golf clubs rspb. super markets developers who can do what they like with impunity and destroy vast swathes of heathland and habitat to be consumed as a commodity for their wealth funny they do bugger all about bringing these offenders to book.so I will carry on as I always did until this country disapears under the blanket of Euro backed global concrete I shall carry on looking without giving a F ck about their pathetic bylaws and permits . keith

Edited by AGILIS - 13 Dec 2013 at 6:15pm
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 6:27pm
Keith, you don't count, we all know you were out there before the WCA was thought of and one person I wouldn't even bother mentioning licenses too lol. (not that you would actually have the slightest bit of trouble in obtaining one if you wanted it).

If it was my decision I would give you the job of handing out the licenses, that would be entertaining! You knew many of the places I know today when they actually were heathlands and not just left over scraps.

Shame in all really because back in the day when the forum started we had TP as a local licence holder for Studland and he'd have been more than happy to have taken anybody round. You can see the irony when you consider half the reason he left was because NE sanctioned the destruction of part of the site. I'll never forget the pictures of dead sand lizards and smooth snakes strewn all over the place, and here we are discussing the license issues of watching the things.

Perhaps we should all concentrate next season on getting the forum back on track. Plenty of pictures and sighting reports. I think over the years we have had some truly amazing stuff posted, this though shouldn't mean that we don't keep posting the every day stuff too.


Edited by GemmaJF - 13 Dec 2013 at 6:33pm
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AGILIS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AGILIS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 2013 at 7:02pm
Hi Gemma well Ive had my rant for the week lol the only thing thats going to stop me looking is fuel costs I never ventured to any of the old haunts this year and its made me very irritable and want to vent my feelings. but over the last few seasons I have had some of my best new CA sightings better then my younger days ,and its not that having a licence that bugs me its the thought of some official twat that might thinkI dont know enough about herps to have one, But I have also had a contact with a old LA herping buddy ginger Dave from the late 1950s who I suspect aint that ginger any more lol and so we become embroiled into another Humbugger season yeuk or yeehaaa what ever your boat .A moaning Keith                          ps And for Richard dont worry about walking the heaths all the holiday makers do without a licence but they dont look so if you dont look your be ok..

Edited by AGILIS - 13 Dec 2013 at 7:13pm
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Tom Omlette View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Omlette Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2013 at 1:22am
thanks for a very interesting read and an object lesson in how to conduct a forum discussion with restraint and dignity. something that appears to becoming increasingly uncommon and undervalued.

i would love to see Keith not only handing out licences but actually head of NE or maybe secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs!

in terms of getting the forum back on track i'll get out as much as i can next year and post more pics. hope everyone else does too. i love seeing them and will make more of an effort to acknowledge everyone else's hard work and effort too.

might even resurrect the old music thread. would love to hear how you're getting on with the not so new guitar gemma.

tom
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2013 at 12:41pm
Sadly Tim I can't play much at the moment. I ruptured a lumbar disc and though it sounds daft it is almost impossible for me to sit or stand to play at the moment. Still I did catch Ziggy Stardust the Motion Picture on telly last night so life is not all bad!


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