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Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group News A Day in the Life of a KRAG Volunteer
A Day in the Life of a KRAG Volunteer
Written by Mike Phillips   
Friday, 09 August 2013 08:25

KRAG volunteers get up to all sorts of things in the course of their volunteering.  Last week I made a short visit to a local group near Canterbury who asked for a quick assessment of their site.  This short report can be found below.  It helped to remind me that volunteering is not all about hardcore survey work, planning applications and data entry. Volunteering can be a journey of discovery and being priviliged to go to places that you may otherwise never venture anywhere near.

On a visit to Hambrook Marshes near Canterbury on 1st August the site was assessed for its reptile and amphibian potential by KRAG volunteer, Mike Phillips along with the Hambrook Melanistic slow-wormMarshes Volunteer Group.  Despite temperatures of over 30 degrees four slow-worms and a viviparous lizard were found in a small compound with several corrugated metal sheets within some rough grassland.  One of the slow-worms was appeared to be melanistic (see photo).  There are several key areas within the site that appear to be very suitable for reptiles.  These areas are generally outside the grazed area of the site and on land that is several metres above the level of the floodplain which will aid successful hibernation.  The damp nature of the site makes it ideal for grass snakes and there are areas of rotting vegetation, hay, straw etc. that could make perfect egg laying sites.  Due to the fairly extensive nature of the grazing at Hambrook Marshes there are also substantial areas of reptile friendly habitat across the wider site.

Despite the presence of fish in the areas of standing water due to inundation from the River Stour, small newt larvae were found in one of the pond/ditch systems.  Due to the lifestage of the newts it was not possible to determine whether they were smooth or palmate.

Future work at the site that KRAG would be happy to support could include:

  • The creation of ponds suitable for amphibians that are not connected to existing waterways
  • Examination of rotting vegetation piles in late summer for emerging juvenile grass snakes
  • Amphibian survey work in spring using nets and torches (KRAG provide free training for volunteer surveyors every year).  This will help to establish which species are found on site.
  • Using tins and felts to carry out survey work to determine the reptile species present and their distribution around the site.
  • Contact KRAG once survey work has been completed to assess the management of the site and fine tune the work programme to maximise the site potential for its herpetofauna.