I love working in the countryside, come rain or shine there is always the potential for something interesting to appear around the next corner. You are also never short of something new to learn about. Regular readers will remember that for the last few years we have been undertaking a reintroduction scheme for sand lizards on Black Down.

sand lizard hatchlings 10 2013 resized

We have been working with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust releasing hatchling lizards (seen above) to an area of specially managed heathland in the hope that this fascinating and rare species would manage to reestablish itself on the hill.

Natural England estimate that they have been lost from over 80% of their former range, they are a classic heathland species and we really wanted to do our best to provide a safe refuge for them.

So for the last three years each year we have released handfulls of pretty tiny lizards onto the heath wondering if we would ever see them again.

sand lizard mb resized

Trouble is the little perishers are pretty much impossible to find until they get to maturity at about 3 years of age. This is when the males develop their fantastic vibrant green colouration. So… this year is the first time we have had chance to see whether the reintroduction has worked…

The winters have been pretty harsh, and various predators were bound to have had quite a few of them, but had any survived?

Well, yesterday, whilst working on the hill Matt discovered the answer, tucked in amongst the heather was a little green wildlife wow, a male sand lizard decked out in his mating finery.

S Lizard 2013 resized

It is great news for our largest and rarest lizard that it is establishing itself in a new home, and great news too for Black Down and all the people who worked so hard to make it happen.