The Cannock Chase National Landscape <br/>Adder Conservation Programme

Adder Photo © Stuart Gunn Staffordshire.birdseye view photography

The Cannock Chase National Landscape
Adder Conservation Programme
Phase 1: Survey and modelling

This survey aims to collect information on the distribution and abundance of reptiles across Cannock Chase National Landscape. Although concentrating on adders, the survey aims to find out more about all herpetofauna species so please look out for slow-worm, common lizard, grass snake and any amphibians.

Long term monitoring programmes show that the adder (Vipera berus) is declining rapidly across many parts of the UK, and faces local extinction in many counties. This pattern of declines is mirrored on Cannock Chase AONB where, there is evidence to suggest that populations may also be vulnerable.

Starting in the Spring of 2024, we are running a survey and monitoring programme supported by the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme to collect and collate records for reptiles across Cannock Chase and its environs. This information will be used to refine our adder habitat suitability model to allow us to identify areas of good habitat, and opportunities for habitat connectivity across the landscape. We would also be grateful for any historic records or other information that you may have, that will allow us to better map the distribution of adders, and where possible target survey areas where less is known.

 

Part A: Record your survey >

 

With thanks to all of our project funders, partners and supporters:

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Part A : Record your survey

Please read the Survey Guidelines carefully before starting to fill in this form.

Part A of the survey form allows you to enter details of your records including time, exact location, number of animals, sex and lifestage (where known) and to upload a photo, if you have one. We are particularly interested in the length of time spent on the survey as this will allow us to calculate the encounter rate. Therefore, please can you enter a time for each individual record you add in Part A, as well as your overall survey start and end time in Part B. It would be really helpful if you could briefly describe the walking route you have taken in the comments box. This will also allow us to refine and improve the adder habitat suitability model.

Surveyor

Survey Area

Records:

# Date Time Grid Reference Species Details Quantity Photos
+
 
What's this?

Notes: Any additional information which might help us to verify your record

Part B : Site Information

This section refers to the area within which the count site is located.

1. Survey start and end times

2. What best describes how the count site is connected to other adder sites/populations?

3. Please describe the habitat(s) at the site. Please tick all that apply to your survey.














4. Questions about bracken Leave blank if uncertain how to complete this section

Bracken is a common feature of adder sites – but is also regarded as invasive and hence sometimes targeted for control. To quantify the incidence of bracken on adder sites please could you circle the DAFOR score that best quantifies abundance of bracken vegetation cover:

Dominant
(50-100%)
Abundant
(30-50%)
Frequent
(15-30%)
Occasional
(5-15%)
Rare
(< 5%)
Bracken in immediate area where you have seen your adders
Bracken abundance within the wider site
Back to Part A: Count Data

Thank you for your help with ‘The Cannock Chase National Landscape Adder Conservation Programme’. These notes are to be used with the recording form.

About The Cannock Chase National Landscape Adder Conservation Programme

This survey aims to collect information on the distribution and abundance of reptiles across Cannock Chase National Landscape. Although concentrating on adders, the survey aims to find out more about all herpetofauna species so please look out for slow-worm, common lizard, grass snake and the amphibians.

Starting in the Spring of 2024, we are running a survey and monitoring programme supported by the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme to collect and collate records for reptiles across Cannock Chase and its environs. This information will be used to refine our adder habitat suitability model to allow us to identify areas of good habitat, and opportunities for habitat connectivity across the landscape. We would also be grateful for any historic records or other information that you may have, that will allow us to better map the distribution of adders, and where possible target survey areas where less is known.

When to survey

For reptile surveys weather conditions are often crucial to the success of a survey. Early in the season (Jan – April) reptiles may be spotted basking even on relatively cold days (temperatures < 10oC) in a sheltered sunny spot.  However, in general warm (from 10oC – 20oC) overcast days are often optimal, particularly after a period of heavy rain. We do not recommend that you survey in high winds.

How to survey

You should aim to walk the site for a period of about 3 hours (please record start and end time), moving quietly and slowly scanning the ground and any suitable habitat features as you move along looking for reptiles. Reptiles can often be found basking on southerly facing spots, or sheltered microhabitats – which may be tucked down into the vegetation e.g. under a heather or gorse overhang, or in a patch of bracken. Reptiles like ‘transitional’ areas – the edge of a path or woodland ride, or at the edge of a scrub belt. Common lizards may also be spotted basking on fallen trees, timber fence posts and amongst piles of stones.

It is important to note that:

  • Records should be made without disturbing the animals (disturbance is regarded as a threat to many populations).
  • There is no need to closely approach snakes or an aggregation site (binoculars may be helpful).

You may also spot shed skins or sloughs along the way. Please also record these, and if possible take a few bags or envelopes so that sloughs can be collected for the ARC reptile genebank project.

Record your Survey

Part A of the survey form allows you to enter details of your records including time, exact location, number of animals, sex and lifestage (where known) and to upload a photo, if you have one. We are particularly interested in the length of time spent on the survey as this will allow us to calculate the encounter rate. Therefore, please can you enter your start and end time in Part B, and enter the sighting time for each individual record you add. It would be really helpful if you could briefly describe the walking route you have taken in the comments box. This will also allow us to refine and improve the adder habitat suitability model.

Information about the wider site

This section allows you to note additional factors about the site. These include the size of the site, connectivity and habitat types This information is useful, even if you do not observe any amphibians or reptiles.

Contact Us!

If you do not have experience of adder or reptile surveys but would like to find out more, join our survey team or have any other comments please contact Dr Angela Julian, Coordinator, ARG UK on angela.julian@arguk.org.

Health and Safety for Surveyors

Adders are venomous snakes and should be treated with caution.  This survey does not involve either handling or closely approaching snakes.  Observations can be made from a distance and ideally without disturbing the adders.  Binoculars may be useful.  Visual survey for reptiles including adders, as described here, is a relatively safe activity.  However, the following checklist of health and safety precautions must be adhered to in order to participate in the survey:

  • We do not recommend lone working, particularly at remote or inaccessible sites, but your buddy does not have to be a reptile surveyor (and may be a friend or family member). This information can also be found on our website. An alternative is to follow a lone-worker system (inform someone of your whereabouts and expected time back from the field and have a check-in arrangement).
  • Do not approach adders closely.
  • Do not disturb or attempt to handle any reptile and especially adders.
  • Be cautious approaching an aggregation site – individual adders may disperse onto your approach route.
  • Do not walk on, or climb over, an aggregation/hibernation site.
  • Wear protective footwear – wellington boots are ideal.
  • Wear clothing appropriate for the outdoors.
  • If you are working in an area where Lyme disease may occur, please take appropriate precautions (www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk)
  • Ensure that you have land owner permission to be on the site. For Forestry England sites on Cannock Chase please fill in the Forestry England Ecology Survey Application Form.

…and the Wildlife

Snakes, especially adders, may be subject to (illegal) persecution or even collection for captivity.  To minimise threats to adder populations do not unnecessarily reveal aggregation locations to the general public, or draw attention to them.  Should someone ask what you are doing, it is best to give a general answer such as bird-watching (and that you have permissions where relevant).

Adders are sensitive to repeated disturbance – so please keep this to a minimum during the survey.

Avoid disturbance of nesting birds – liaise with site managers.

Data protection and copyright agreement

As with all wildlife recording/monitoring programmes, the success of the project hinges on sharing the data collected. We need to hold some personal data (your name and contact details) but they will be used only for the purposes of the Cannock Chase National Landscape Adder Conservation Programme, and will not be shared outside of the two project partners: Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK (ARG UK), and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC). However, records may be relayed to other conservation projects or recording schemes, should there be a clear conservation benefit from doing this.

Signing the data protection and copyright agreement confirms that:

  • You are willing to allow us to keep your personal data for use by the Cannock Chase National Landscape Adder Conservation Programme project only. You may remove your details at any time by request. Personal data will not be shared with third parties.
  • You are willing to let us pass on the data you provide to others, where there is a clear conservation benefit. This might include passing on site records to biological record centres or other recording schemes.
  • Should you prefer not to share details of the site, please tick the ‘Confidential site’ box. If you tick this box, your site may still appear on a low-resolution dot map, but the exact location details will be kept confidential.

Site confidentiality

To mark your records as confidential when using the online form, please click the 'Mark these records as confidential (advanced)' link below the Record table and tick the checkbox.

To share information and provide general feedback, a summary of the data collected will be sent to participating surveyors and project partners.  The data summary may include a dot map to show the distribution of survey sites and summary statistics.  The summary will not include exact site location information. However, this information will be relayed to survey participants (subject to informal screening) should they request such information for conservation purposes.  If you feel that, for reasons of site security, you do not wish to reveal the location of your site to other surveyors, then please tick the Confidential site box.  If you tick this box, your site may still appear on a low-resolution dot map, but exact location details will be kept confidential.

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