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Sighting claim, 1950s

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Liz Heard View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06 Sep 2012 at 6:52pm
Hi folks,

i was talking to an elderly landowner who has farmed right beside the Severn at Elmore all his life recently. i proudly showed him some newts i had found near a pond in his yard under an old mat. he correctly identified these as Lv and we got talking forra bit with me (naturally) probing him about local wildlife inc herps. keen on animals, he was also able to differentiate between Field and Bank Voles and went on to say that years ago, as a youngster, he had found a Natterjack Toad there. he remarked upon the yellow stripe down its back - with no prompting or witness-leading from yours truly.
naturally i took this with a large pinch of salt but then later considered the local habitat and wondered.
the Severn has extensive sand banks in this area and is also the 'gateway to the West' IE Eire where the species is also found.
and who knows what the adjacent agricultural landscape looked like prior to intensification?

is this nonsense/a yarn to please me?
thoughts please.

cheers, ben
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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: 07 Sep 2012 at 12:20pm
Hi Ben, very interesting indeed.  I like your tie-in with SW Ireland!  I would expect locals to have heard them chorusing in spring, though, or would there not have been many people in those parts, maybe?  keep us posted, anyway.  Cheers, Will
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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: 08 Sep 2012 at 12:20pm
I think it always possible, when I talk to people about memories going back to the '50s it seems all our herps were way more common and familiar to people. At some point in history Natterjacks must have had wider and more continuous distribution, before they became the handful of isolates we know today. So I see no reason for such an isolate to not have existed in this region still in the 1950s. I would have thought that there we a lot more such sites then too?

Edited by GemmaJF - 09 Sep 2012 at 11:44pm
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Suzy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2012 at 1:19pm
My brother some years ago was told by an old boy of sand lizards in the north-east, not a site that was known today for them. It turned out that this person certainly knew his native lizards and knew they weren't common ones. Also he knew his newts and hadn't muddled those into the picture. The site was on military land where no one was allowed, but he had been there. My brother was therefore not able to verify this account and I'm not sure how many years ago all this was.
Whilst it is very easy to mis-identify species I don't think we should always discount memories of those who were around in the past.
Suz
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liamrussell View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote liamrussell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2012 at 1:44pm
I think some of the old records are probably unreliable. For example, research into sand lizard distribution in the UK in the 1970s showed a very good correlation between the location of sand lizard sites and the 6.5 May isohel (similar to an isobar but shows the average daily hours of bright sunshine). All natural sand lizard sites are to the south or west of this line, it also may explain why the introduced population in the Outer Hebrides has managed to persist and large tracts of seemingly suitable habitat in Norfolk are unoccupied. It suggests that there isn't enough sunshine along the east coast at the crucial time of year when the lizards need to bask to produce eggs and sperm.
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sussexecology View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2012 at 9:18pm

There are some records of sand lizards in merseyside and pretty sure there are historic records for this area too.

Nice idea about the sunshine Liam. Smile

They are restricted to certain habitats in certain soil types though. I would look at soil type first before looking at whether a historic record is genuine or not. Sand lizards are pretty distinctive though and are unlikely to be confused with the common lizards.

Regards
SE Reptile Ecologist
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Matt Harris View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Harris Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2012 at 1:17pm
Originally posted by liamrussell liamrussell wrote:

I think some of the old records are probably unreliable. For example, research into sand lizard distribution in the UK in the 1970s showed a very good correlation between the location of sand lizard sites and the 6.5 May isohel (similar to an isobar but shows the average daily hours of bright sunshine). All natural sand lizard sites are to the south or west of this line, it also may explain why the introduced population in the Outer Hebrides has managed to persist and large tracts of seemingly suitable habitat in Norfolk are unoccupied. It suggests that there isn't enough sunshine along the east coast at the crucial time of year when the lizards need to bask to produce eggs and sperm.


I remember this research with the isohels, but I also remember Tom Langton telling me that it was hokum, though I can't remember the explanation he gave...
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Brian View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2015 at 4:05am
It is surprising how people can sometimes give very convincing descriptions that turn out to be quite wrong. A few years back I spoke to somebody who described toads with yellow stripes from the New Forest and in the end I got quite excited about them and visited her. They turned out to be common frogs with a pale marking down the back!
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