Slow worms not such a rarity in BS3

Published on: 22 Jun 2017

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Slow worms come out to bask in the sun – and schools get busy improving their wildlife habitats (See below)

Alex Morss and children at Ashton Park primary school

Picture: Alex Morss helps pupils at Ashton Gate primary school map their grounds for wildlife

 

THE reason My Wild Bedminster began was because BS3 is one of the most impoverished areas for wildlife in Bristol, because it is so built up and has so many small gardens. But you’d never guess, given the variety of animal photos sent in to our monthly wildlife competition!

This month we’re delighted that so many people have seen slow worms – not in fact a worm, but a type of lizard. They can shed their tails and blink their eyelids – things only lizards can do.

They are usually found in woods or heathland, but they also like allotments and well-established gardens in towns. They need a source of invertebrates to eat and a sunny patch in which to sunbathe. Lis Chalkey was surprised to find a slow worm in Avonleigh Road, Bedminster: “I have only seen slowworms once before, as a child in the West Midlands. It’s extremely rare to see them so we were very pleased to be able to rescue one alive from my cat. 

“I know he is a young male because he had a gold hue about him and was missing a black stripe that some females have.  

“After checking online, we followed the advice and placed him in a well-hidden overgrown area away from cats,” she said.

Rachel Scanu has frequently spotted slowworms at Bedminster Down allotments. And Andy Tilley also reports seeing a slow worm while doing some gardening work at Ashton Vale school in early June – “lovely to see,” he said.  

A hummingbird hawkmoth was spied in a Southville garden on June 15 – a visitor from the Continent.

PHOTO CONTEST

Send your photos of wildlife in BS3 to: paul@southbristolvoice.co.uk.  £10 prize every month. Sorry, no professional photographers. 

 

Wild enthusiasm

WITH the sponsorship of Besley hill estate agents in Bedminster, the My Wild Bedminster project is getting children in BS3 schools to look around them and think about how they look to wild animals.

The latest school to take part was Ashton Gate primary, and Alex Morss, ecologist and South Bristol Voice nature writer, was there, on one of the hottest days of June, to give the children some pointers. The school’s Year 4 was divided into three, and each group looked at different areas in the school grounds. They were asked what kinds of wildlife they could find there already, focusing on  mammals, mini beasts or birds.

Then they were invited to think about what they’d like to do to encourage more wildlife in the school premises.

Alex said: “The children had some great ideas, despite nearly melting in the heat! they are going to present their best ideas to school managers and the PTA and see if they can be funded.”

The crucial need the children found is to introduce water features, and they’d also like more year-round plants that pollinators such as butterflies can feed on.

They might also look at bird boxes and feeders, and perhaps an area for hedgehogs to hibernate.

The Voice will follow the pupils’ progress. If their artwork wins our competition – judged by TV presenter Andy Day, ending on September 15 – the sponsorship from Besley Hill will help them put in some of their improvements.

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