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smooth snake faux pas

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Smooth Snake
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Coronella austriaca
URL: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=4742
Printed Date: 06 Dec 2019 at 9:04am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: smooth snake faux pas
Posted By: peterh
Subject: smooth snake faux pas
Date Posted: 16 Apr 2014 at 2:25pm

Hi all,

ok so my mision for the next couple of years is to spot a smooth snake/s on hopefully an un documented site/s, yeah i know good luck on that one right but i will endevor.
Here's the thing, im aware they are really protected and even disturbing them or the cover they may be under requires a licsence, i have no intention of doing the above i was just wondering how far this stretches, i mean just observing and photographing wouldnt be deemed as disturbing provided it was done from a respectfull distance right?


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beauty hides in all things, different eyes see it in different ways.



Replies:
Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 16 Apr 2014 at 4:20pm
If you ask Natural England they will say it 'depends'.

The actual situation is that if for any reason it ended up at magistrates court it would be for the magistrate to decide what disturbing them actually means. (There is no case law as yet, though there has been a statement regarding what NE think disturbance should mean. This may or may not be all that relevant to a magistrate, so I view the situation as unchanged).

If photography doesn't involve disturbing them, one has to ask why do NE issue licences to cover exactly this activity? To me that implies it a licensable activity.

My comments are purely from seeing the situation for how it stands and are not my own opinion on what should or shouldn't require a licence. Anyone who is setting out to observe, photograph or in your stated case 'survey' for these animals should though at least consider their situation regarding licencing. 

I would think it would be hard to find smooth snakes without using tins/artificial cover objects of some form though.

There are Smooth Snake licence holders on the forum so they may be able to contribute.


Posted By: peterh
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2014 at 8:41am

thanks, i expect your spot on about the chances of seeing one out of cover will be highly unlikey, i guess my method will be going out to observe all herps just focussing on known smoothie sights and a handfull of sights that im hopefull about. im quite lucky that there is known populations near by so perhaps they have colonized other patches in the area without being documented and hopefully coming across one on the move. So just to check on forum etiquette, if the unlikey did happen and i got some pics, it wouldnt be frowned on to upload them?



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beauty hides in all things, different eyes see it in different ways.


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2014 at 8:57am
I disagree on all ca are only seen under tins most of mine have been out in the open, but its a question of knowing where!?, as I think Will could back me up on this statement, and the reptile police are about as useless as nat Eng when it comes down to anything more then clearing scrub and ruin their habitat Keith

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2014 at 10:28am
I did say Keith it would be hard to find smooth snakes without using tins/ACO - that's not quite the same thing as going to a known site Wink

I guess Peter it 'depends', worth remembering though that forum members would immediately recognise a 'posed' shot, i.e. one where the animal had been handled to position it for the photograph. Likewise a genuine 'in-situ' shot would be easy to spot. 

From the licence point of view if the intention is to go out to look for them, it's where it gets into the grey area as far as the legislation goes. Plenty do just that, and don't worry about it. I personally would link up with a licence holder at first, see if they think my activities ought to be licensed and take it from there. This way there is no doubts or worries. Records collected can go to those who can make use of them etc.

PS it will also greatly enhance the chances of seeing animals at first and you get to meet someone with a huge amount of experience and knowledge, can't be that bad a deal Smile


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2014 at 11:49am
Hi peter where abouts do you live as it might make a better chance of you seeing one if you live in Souther England where they are restricted to a few limited sites in Surrey Hants & Dorset I am restricted by current fuel costs as the nearest sites are about 100 miles away
just thought I would show you a juvenile from Studland and some other non tin sightings ,regards Keith


[IMG][/IMG]

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: peterh
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2014 at 12:07pm
thanks Gemma..
ahh wow thats a great pic thanks for sharing keith, smooth snake and sand lizard are the two left on my list ( must try harder )
I live in cranleigh surrey, ( kind of surrey-sussex boarder) i know a few sites close by ( within 20 miles ) according to the infomation booklets and info boards they have out anyway, that boast all 6, not to mention masses of cool inverts especialy spiders and dragon flies.


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beauty hides in all things, different eyes see it in different ways.


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2014 at 12:14pm
Peter you live pretty close by may I suggest Frenshan pond area as that is a good start to see a sand Liz Keith

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: peterh
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2014 at 12:41pm

i know frensham, ive been on a casual stroll through before but was pretty tight for time, but yeah thats about 35 mins away so not far, i saw some common lizards there before and a million dogs ha but no sand lizards or otherwise, but like i said it was a very short trip and quite late in the day, my actual main reason for the last visit was to photograph wood ants but i spent most of the time i had inspecting the area damaged by "wildfire!" you have inspired a return and this weekend lends itself to me perfectly. i was informed ash ranges was a good spot aswel but its so vast i find it a little overwhelming, i also dont know how reliable the info was. i will let you know how i get on thanks!



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beauty hides in all things, different eyes see it in different ways.


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 18 Apr 2014 at 7:39am
hi Peter I I have added a ew more ca & la pics to the last post to give you a bit of a boost as what to expect when you manage a sighting its all a matterm of patience stealth and good hard looking then once you have your eye in it does become easier after about 50 years when your eyes begin to fail lol Keith

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: peterh
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 9:16am

Ha, brilliant Keith thanks.. i wonder if when the tyre was dumped they thought it would be a nice lizard lounger. Wacko ps, pity about your heath pics on the other thread, guess they didnt take the blinkers off  Censored



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beauty hides in all things, different eyes see it in different ways.


Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 11:26am
I don't want to go over ground we covered in the long and fascinating debate we had about licences a few months ago, but I've one new thing to add. After that discussion, I did inquire about whether I could get a licence for educational or survey purposes, and was advised that I would need to be recommended by two previous licence-holders. That does make the whole thing more of a closed shop than I knew. 


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 11:55am

It is only a closed shop if one is not prepared to link up with a licence holder. Once one has, the licence holder you have linked up with would be able to recommend the other. When they felt you had sufficient knowledge and ability to hold the licence. Alternatively they might recommend attending a classroom training course to obtain the other referee. 

I certainly remember my time spent with Dr. Lee Brady obtaining my GCN licence as a fun and highly informative experience. There is nothing like being guided through the finer points of it all by a person you regard as a leading expert on the species and someone you know has a huge amount of practical field experience.

I would not give that up to be out in the field looking over my shoulder all the time....

Until you go this route it is also rather impossible to gauge how much one does and doesn't know. Regardless of how many years one might have been out there.




Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 12:12pm
How is someone who doesn't know a licence-holder to find one who is willing to vouch for them?


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 12:27pm
There is a really good forum on the net Richard, it is called Reptiles & Amphbians of the Uk. Once you join up you are in a very open shop Wink

I would start by asking Chris, I think he might know a bit about sand lizards and might even be able to give you details of a licence holder you could meet up with or where to enquire. There are also national recording schemes to look into such as http://www.narrs.org.uk/" rel="nofollow - http://www.narrs.org.uk/  getting involved and attending training days wouldn't do any harm. You will have some training even if it is more geared to the widespread species, but importantly you will no longer be on the 'outside' of things Wink

I'm sure I recognise the style of that NARRS website Chris Smile



Posted By: Iowarth
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 12:33pm
Hi Richard & Gemma

As Gemma says, we're a very open shop. And .............. yes, I am a licence holder! You've been here - you know me! (purely as an example you understand!)

But best, as Gemma says, I would fervently recommend the NARRS route since this will get you training and licensed - albeit needing to submit an Annual Report.

NARRS website? Who, me? Nah - it was a bloke registered on this forum as Iowarth.

All the best
Chris




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Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)


Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 12:39pm
Thanks. I wasn't only thinking of myself, but I have decided - partly because of our previous conversations - to give this a try. The question, though, is whether I can get a licence on the basis of educational purposes, since I am not a trained scientist. I am an education professional in literature and creative writing and an author on this subject, so it will be interesting to see what that counts for. The people I asked at NE seemed rather nonplussed, and only to think in terms of licences for scientific work, though education is listed as one of the reasons for holding a licence. Also, the question is whether the licence-holders need only to give me a character-reference as someone with a good basic knowledge who is highly motivated to take considerate care for the animals, or whether they need to certify me as trained in some way, which would be more difficult.


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 12:55pm
Your concerns are easily answered Richard.

Firstly science and education should not be regarded as meaning anything more than a category lots of activities fit into.

I hold a GCN licence in the science and education category, my education is in aerospace engineering though I did study ecology beyond A-Level it isn't all that relevant when compared to years of practical field experience. One could have no formal education and still hold the same licence. It is the category most people will hold in conservation or consultancy and covers most survey activity.

Working towards your licence you will pick-up a few things regarding the animals, perhaps most importantly you will meet people. At the end you will be able to submit records (in fact it is a requirement of the licence that you do so) and in all one is now contributing towards herp conservation, safe in the knowledge that you are recognised by others in the field as competent to do so. It is not NE that are sanctioning you as such, it's the people you have been chatting with here and we are all the same, just people with a passion for herps.

Just a footnote, whenever this topic comes up on the forum I'm kind of perplexed. I've seen so many people with only a very passing interest in herps go through training and receive their licences. Yet those with obvious commitment and interest often see it as a hurdle. It really need not be so. I can understand that people may feel a little put out that they are somehow being 'tested' but it really isn't like that at all, it's just a case of going out with someone with bags of knowledge and experience and them checking out you are up to speed. In fact I remember well JC not allowing me to answer any of the questions during my formal classroom session, can't have been anything to do with him knowing me from here could it? LOL


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 1:57pm
Just another tip, when you do put in the licence application, there is a box that says which counties of the UK you want included under your licence - best just put 'All' then there is no restriction if you are on holiday and want to visit a local site etc.


Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 4:42pm
Thanks, Chris and Gemma. This is helpful. What I want is to be able to observe animals closely in the wild for the purpose of writing about them. I don't want to catch and handle anything, but I would like to get as close as I can without harming the animals. This is what puzzled the people at NE. They couldn't say whether I needed a licence at all, and seemed inclined to think I didn't, but you and others here feel strongly that I do, and it would be nice to be able to look under tin traps, for example. When it came to the details of how I would apply, the NE people seemed doubtful about whether I fitted any of the categories. My argument would be that the writing I publish and the broadcasting I do have an educational effect - and as a teacher of creative writing I would like to take small groups of students into the field. 

Gemma, you say that lots of people with only a passing interest go through training. What sort of time-commitment is it?


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 22 Apr 2014 at 5:05pm
Often just a day course Richard, but you will need to find out what is currently required because I gained my GCN licence a while back. I was also seeking bottle trapping which involves animal welfare as well as practical knowledge, so did several practical evenings in the field to gain experience with the technique first.

Another way of putting it all, if you collect records (which are part of the licence requirement) you are already engaged in a educational and scientific activity, one doesn't have to be a scientist to do so. So really don't worry about the category it is just wording and NE often seem to be rather non-committal about when a licence is actually required or not. So look on the NARRS site, there are contact details for rarer reptiles, and just choose the Scientific and Educational category when you fill out your application. Nobody will even ask you about previous formal education, it isn't a requirement of any kind.

From your post above I would strongly recommend a licence. It will give you all the freedom you could want with your studies.


Posted By: arvensis
Date Posted: 23 Apr 2014 at 4:50pm
Going directly to NE is not the only way to get licenced for the fully protected species as you can get licenced via the ARC trust for surveying purposes.   

Say you lift a tin and find a Smooth Snake under it and after a little while it starts to move off, which most, if not all animals will do, then that in my opinion would be disturbance.  Same goes for if someone sees a Sand Lizard basking and for some reason the person spooks it and it disappears, that surely would be disturbance.

It would be best to get a licence in my opinion.

Mark

Mark


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 10:18am
I love all these ne regulations regarding disturbance specialy by the infrequent visits by keen herpos who mostly stalk them with silent stealth trying our best not to alarm them so we can observe & photo them they are disturbed every day by people walking and letting their dogs frolic among the heather and not forgetting scrambler and quadbikes that these days have become much more frequant thrashing their way though once isolated tranquil heaths alas no more.And how many time have you seen notices or anyone regulating these activities perhaps they have a negative disturbance factor with the ne? unlike us Keith

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 27 Apr 2014 at 12:06pm
That's my feeling exactly. At Studland last weekend I was kneeling at the edge of the path and slowly leaning forward to get as else as I could to photograph a basking sand Lizard, while around me people were blithely trotting about on the heath, romping with their dogs and rolling about in the undergrowth with their lovers. Two children ran onto the heather, a boy and a girl. One shouted 'There are snakes here.' 'Nah,' said the other.

I straightened up. 'Actually there are snakes,' I said.

'Cool,' said the boy.

'There are adders,' I said.

'Wow,' said the boy. 'Awesome.'

And they ran on into the dunes. That's how I would have responded at their age.


Posted By: Hawley
Date Posted: 28 Apr 2014 at 10:36am
Have you thought about joining SARG (Surrey Amphibians & Reptile Group)?  They survey Frensham & Ash Ranges and will help you get your licence.


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 28 Apr 2014 at 1:30pm
I've always found that herps are extremely tolerant of background disturbance. Hence why they can be found in high concentrations along motorway verges, often live happily beside noisy aircraft and motorsport etc. 

Creeping up on them while they are basking and creeping about in the habitat (especially considering for example that female sand lizards mosaic bask and therefore largely remain cryptic) seems a totally different activity to me. Especially seeing as by habit 'herpos', will return to the same spots where they have seen animals in the past over and over again.

Is it just me or is it getting to be a familiar story on here? Someone asks if they should have a licence as they obviously suspect they probably do. The licence holders generally say well yes probably best to have one. NE are incapable of giving a clear answer. Then there is a whole load of justifications to carry on as normal...

Quite honestly if you reach the  point of thinking 'do I need a licence' the answer is probably yes you do. NE won't provide much help clarifying, it's the other licence holders who are advising here who know what is involved, not only in gaining a licence, but also which activities require one. 





Posted By: peterh
Date Posted: 28 Apr 2014 at 2:33pm

Its all very interesting to me, im really thinking that i would like to earn a licence even if i never get the honor of spotting a smooth snake, i find that through obtaining licences or certificates, qualifications ect ect in whatever area, be it enviromental, electrical or anything else you can think of you learn so much knowledge on the given subject thats its worth doing for just that alone Beer



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beauty hides in all things, different eyes see it in different ways.


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 28 Apr 2014 at 3:11pm
Very true Peter and the fact it protects the holder against prosecution under the Wildlife and Countryside Act is handy too. Wink

I've been out there a fair old time and can be very honest that I've met a few people who protested about licencing and they are not always in reality the greatest field herpers you are likely to come across. One can't help wondering if that in part adds to their reluctance to seek a licence for their activities?



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