22 April 2013: Greenham Common Reptiles

Leader: Rod D'Ayala

Seven members joined Rod D'Ayala at Greenham Common on the morning of April 22nd for this rescheduled field trip. Rod and a colleague regularly monitor the area surrounding Greenham for reptiles and other wildlife. They rely heavily on numerous metal sheets laid out in key areas, for most of their sightings come from beneath these refuges. Adders are the main focus of the monitoring being the rarest for the Berks & Oxon area. Rod explained that Adders need both Winter and Summer quarters and disturbance of either of these, or the area in between, can have devastating effects. Virtually all
conservation bodies fail to fully understand the needs of these reptiles.

The group were taken to 3 main areas and were shown several Adders, Grass Snakes, Common Lizards, and Slow-worms at each. The day was warm enough for a few Adders to be out basking. It was explained that each Adder had different head markings and so were individually known to Rod who maintains close-up photographs of them all. Such was the number of reptiles and sites that we were 3.5 hours in the field.

Greenham's birdlife is also good and we heard and saw Woodlark, plus Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Jay & Nuthatch. When the others had gone, Tony stayed on for half an hour and caught up with Linnets, Stonechat and Dartford Warbler.

Members are urged not to go to Greenham looking for reptiles without Rod's approval as you are likely to do more harm  than good if you don't know what you are doing. Rod's work is clearly of great value and we were lucky to have him as our guide.

Tony Rayner