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A second cluthttp://www.ch for Surrey sand lizards

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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: A second cluthttp://www.ch for Surrey sand lizards
    Posted: 17 Jun 2015 at 3:30pm

We were fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time whilst surveying a few reintroduction sites last weekend and were privileged to see some of the seasonal activity of the sand lizard unfolding at our feet.


Plenty of animals were using this bank. 

Central to the activity was this female, freshly sloughed and receptive, wafting out pheromones that attracted multiple males to her home range.

Male number one, clearly dominant, was observed chasing another males off.


Male number two, never far away, and waiting an opportunity to sneak in.


Male number three, also very close by.


Male number one mate guarding the female whilst she basks in her favourite moss-carpeted sun room.


In between chasing off other males, male number one continues his vigil.  But the female soon decides to move off and forage

.

Here is the female foraging at a different sun room, pulling invertebrates out from their moss hiding places.



Male number one initially follows the female, but is easily distracted by juicy grasshoppers, and loses contact with the female.



Whilst foraging nearby, the female encounters male number three.


Male number one basks nearby unaware.

An immature animal also basks nearby.  This strikingly marked individual wouldn't look out of place on a Merseyside dune.



Male number three seizes the opportunity, and the female, and mates with her whilst male number one's back is turned.  This superb image was taken by Vaughn Matthews.


Male number one continues to bask and forage elsewhere.  Following mating with male number three, the female makes her way back to her favourite sun room.



Male number two is there waiting for her as she arrives, and wastes no time.



The female drags the male across the sun room.


Male number two quickly mates with the female.  This is the second male that the female has mated with in a 15 minute period.



Male number two, post copulation.



A new male appears waiting in the wings, male number four. We left them to it at this point.
BLF Dragonscapes Habitats officer
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
e: peter.hill@arc-trust.org
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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2015 at 5:30pm
fabulous observations, thanks for sharing!  I'm surprised they're still at it - those in Dorset seemed past any mating behaviour and females plump with eggs.
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Paul Ford View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Ford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2015 at 5:33pm
Great encounter! Thanks for sharing :)
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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: 17 Jun 2015 at 7:24pm
brilliant!!!

tim
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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2015 at 8:15pm
Judging by the amount of test holes and the condition of the females encountered during the two days, mature Surrey females are double clutching.
BLF Dragonscapes Habitats officer
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
e: peter.hill@arc-trust.org
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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: 18 Jun 2015 at 5:22am
Nice pics Peter looks a bit like some steep Hankley type sand bank but you said reintroduction site! 🐍keith


Edited by AGILIS - 18 Jun 2015 at 5:30am
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2015 at 6:10am
Hi Peter

can you explain the phenomenon of double clutching please? I have found gravid females in Dorset in late July which have subsequently laid eggs at the start of August. I assumed that they would have fertilised those eggs with stored sperm from spring matings. But your Surrey lizards are still copulating, suggesting that a second clutch will be freshly fertilised. It also occurs to me that if second clutches are being laid as early as mid June then this really is evidence of climate change - they're behaving more like wall lizards! Perhaps Chris can tell us what the pattern is with his captive females?
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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2015 at 8:50am
I know that Paul Hudson who breeds the Merseyside race for the reintroduction programme regularly double clutches his captive females, which I imagine is simply a case of providing the good care and attention to detail that amounts to the equivalent for the lizards of an exceptionally good season.   I very much doubt that this occurs very often naturally on northern dune systems, but in good years on southern heaths, it would not be unreasonable to assume that it does occur naturally from time to time.

BLF Dragonscapes Habitats officer
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e: peter.hill@arc-trust.org
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2015 at 9:00am
Hi everyone

Firstly, thanks for posting the excellent pictures and account. Not everyone here is a Farcebook enthusiast so this was an important opportunity for them to see this.

As regards double clutching, this is a very difficult thing to keep track of in the wild. The reason? Depending on weather, food availability etc, the laying season for first clutches can be (exceptionally) as early as late April and as late as mid to late June. We have, however, observed it in captive populations where the same factors are relevant but conditions in the vivaria are optimised and the food supply never ending.

This years rather strange weather (presumably) has resulted in males continuing in full breeding colouration and behaviour and mating is rife although most females laid 2-4 weeks ago. THis would improve the chances of a second clutch - in fact the first female who laid is again digging test burrows even now!

It is also worth noting that even when males go out of breeding condition early, females will still sometimes lay a viable second clutch. Presumably this indicates that sperm storage can also be a factor.

All the best
Chris
Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)
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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jun 2015 at 9:07am
thanks for the fast replies Peter and Chris - as ever, fascinating stuff! and yes, as a non-Facebook / Farcebook user I would not have seen these photos without them being posted here.
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