On Saturday 24th September a group of our most enthusiastic supporters were treated to a day out at the New Forest Reptile Centre for the ARC Friends Day 2016. These annual events are our way of saying a big thank you to our wonderful ARC Friends for their invaluable ongoing support.

During the morning Gary Powell, ARC’s Senior Reserve Manger, gave a guided tour of the specially built enclosures and introduced us to some of our fabulous native amphibians and reptiles including: adders, slow-worms, common lizards, common frogs and a shy natterjack toad.

We then settled down for a fascinating talk from Ben Limburn, ARC’s New Forest Smooth Snake Project Officer. Ben gave us an overview of his exciting project and a privileged insight into the secret world of the smooth snake, one of our rarest reptiles. After a comedic interruption by a group of pigs who wanted in on the action, the group was given a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a beautiful female smooth snake (named on the day as Gertrude).

Once everyone had enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sunshine (with only minor pig invasions), Gary and Ben led us to a nearby heath for a guided walk and a mini reptile survey. Gary told us about the ecology of the heathland and how the land is managed to help wildlife of all kinds.  Ben then explained how the refugia (sheets put down to encourage reptiles to bask) had been placed on site as part of his project and how the data collect would be used inform future habitat management in the Forest. During the survey we recorded several species and got to meet a sweet little slow-worm.

Many thanks to Gary, Ben and the rest of the ARC team and of course a huge thank you to all of the lovely ARC Friends who were able to join us for this fun day out in the sun. We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Kim Boughey
Friendship & E-Communications Officer