ARC’s Connecting the Dragon Project Officer, Pete Hill fills us in on work the team has been doing for sand lizards in Wales.

Early in the year the team completed specialist sand lizard field skills survey training for volunteers to be able to assist with monitoring some mid-Wales sites at which we have successfully reintroduced the species. Trainees being accredited on ARC's organisational survey license, further develops their skills and contributes toward a better-informed understanding of our reintroduced populations of sand lizard in Wales, how they are faring, and spreading into and colonising new areas of habitat.

Over the last few months fellow Connecting the Dragons officer, George and I have been mentoring these volunteers in the field. We were recently surveying a section of a Welsh sand dune at which ARC reintroduced sand lizards 12 years ago.  The northern-most point of the dune is separated from the main dune, and is usually inaccessible due to it being fenced off for most of the season to enable plovers (short billed shorebirds) to nest undisturbed. The plovers did well this year with more than a dozen chicks fledging, and as the plovers have now finished the nesting season George, the volunteers and I were able to survey the area for the first time in ideal weather conditions.

Tiny, and the colour of sand, hatchling sand lizards are tricky to spot, but we are pleased to say that four hatchling sand lizards were recorded in the plover area, as well as another hatchling and an adult female elsewhere in the dunes. There were plenty of common lizards out and about also, as well as a female adder. These latest records demonstrate that the sand lizards have now colonised the site entirely. Another successful reintroduction!

Continuing the sand lizard theme I have also recently appeared on ‘Chris and Meg's Wild Summer’ on BBC two. I took Chis and Meg to visit Morfa Harlech on the coast of North Wales, the first Welsh site at which ARC reintroduced the sand lizard, two decades ago. They wanted to see how the population is doing and set me the challenge of finding a lizard at this tricky time of year (the lizards are most active in spring/early summer). You can watch it via iPlayer to find out what happens:

You can read more about ARC national sand lizard reintroduction programme on our saving species page.

If you would like to find out more about Connecting the Dragons or how to get involved please visit our project page.

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