In this latest update Snakes in the Heather Public Engagement and Education Officer, Owain Masters tell us about the teams successful survey season, future plans and upcoming volunteer socials

It has been a very busy few months for the Snakes in the Heather team.

Firstly, we have had our second to last survey season within the project. This means we have been busily delivering reptile survey training and setting up survey sites all the way from Surrey to Devon.

Our newly trained surveyors are a mix of project partner staff, who will survey on their heathland sites, and ARC volunteers who we will work with to allocate a survey site that suits them. All of the surveyors are providing data which we will be using to put together a Smooth Snake Conservation Handbook which will be shared with heathland managers across the range of the smooth snake. The Snakes in the Heather project advisory group, which is made up of land managers, academics, volunteers and more, each with lots of expertise, will be working with us to put this handbook together in the most useable form over the last year of the project. We will be planning a series of workshops to share the information captured and to talk about how different forms of heathland management impact reptile populations.

Our Education and Events programme has been similarly busy. We have lead numerous walks and activity days across the summer to teach people all about our amazing reptiles and gain support for their conservation. This culminated in a meeting with the ‘Species Champion’ for the smooth snake, Sir Desmond Swayne, who has been tasked with promoting the interests of the smooth snake at a political level. We are continuing with our outreach work into the winter, with the resumption of our Snakes in the Heather Sunday Fundays. These are days managing heathland nature reserves that have been designed to be suitable for families, and they were very popular last years with locals looking for outdoor activities that continue over the winter months. Our first Sunday Funday of the season will be on 2nd October, for more details of this and future events keep an eye on our events section.

This winter we also have our first in-person Volunteer Socials, one in the New Forest on 27th October and another in Dorset a little later. The volunteer socials are chance for us to catch up after the survey season and we will be putting together a mini pub quiz for anyone with a bit of a competitive streak! If you are a project partner or ARC volunteer reading this we would love to have you along. Visit the SitH New Forest partner and volunteer social 2022 event page to find out more and book your place.

As always, if you would like to get involved with the project or learn more please visit the Snakes in the Heather project page. if you are a project partner or volunteer wanting to take part in reptile surveys please email [email protected]

If you would like to book a talk about UK reptiles for a school or community group over the winter please email [email protected].

Snakes in the Heather is supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.