The Lizards of Bournemouth Cliffs
The hepetofauna of this area is unique within the UK, and of much interest. Dorset and Hampshire has been long known to harbour all six species of reptile native to Britain, so the heathland that survived around the local area held very good populations of all three snake species and three species of lizards. Bournemouth cliffs seem to have none existent populations of snakes in most areas. Very small relict colonies of adders hold on around the Poole side of the cliffs but, none occur in the Bournemouth side. In fact not even smooth snakes occur. Only lizards occur, and in great numbers, not just the three native species but two newcomers. These two species have possibly escaped from captivity or more likely to have been released on purpose.
This species has not occurred naturally in England recently, but there have been many attempts to introduce it in the past. The Victorians were very keen on the idea and many Naturalists after. No colonies succeeded or survived for very long.
The Bournemouth Colony seems to be doing OK mainly to do with the climate and habitat. There were many reports of green lizards in Dorset, Hampshire and Devon during the Nineteenth century but later naturalists suspected confusion with sand lizards. I think That it is possible that we has green lizards here , either naturally or otherwise during Gilbert Whites time, as suggested in his book 'The natural history of Selbourne' and also other books dating from late nineteenth century to early twentieth. The species occurs naturally on at least one channel island and northern France. There were several attempts to introduce the species into Dorset in the past. Along with wall and green lizards good colonies of common lizards flourish, and in The Poole section, sand lizards. No slow worms occur in the Boscombe or Southbourne areas of cliff top but they occur in the Poole areas.
I conduct field trips to observe these species and the best time is between May and June.
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