Nature lovers to protect rare Lakenham lizard colony
PUBLISHED: 08:54 06 December 2016 | UPDATED: 08:54 06 December 2016
Overgrown grass banks on a popular city walkway will be cleared tomorrow to protect a rare urban lizard colony.
The common lizard is the UK’s most common and widespread reptile.
It is found across many habitats including heathland, moorland, woodland and grassland where it can be seen basking in sunny spots.
There are a few colonies in Norfolk, including in the dunes on the coast.
Also known as the viviparous lizard, the species is unusual among reptiles for giving birth to live young rather than laying eggs.
They are usually brownish-grey, often with rows of darker markings down the back and sides. Males have bright yellow or orange undersides. They live for up 12 years and can reach between 10-15cm in length.
Common lizards hibernate under the ground from October until early spring.
Volunteers from the Lakenham and Town Close Green Spaces Group, the Conservation Volunteers and members of Norwich City Council’s Norse team will carry out the conservation work on Lakenham Way, Norwich.
Bushes, brambles and long vegetation are encroaching on the banks of the former railway track – which supports a common lizard colony – between Sandy Lane and the Queen’s Road Sainsbury’s supermarket.
The shy reptiles, which prefer quieter more rural areas of Britain, are hibernating under the ground so will not be harmed by the work.
Volunteers are appealing for help on the day of action and anyone can join in the outdoor work, including children under 18 as long as they are accompanied by adults.
Pam Frost, a volunteer from the Lakenham and Town Close Green Spaces Group, said: “The lizards’ environment is being eroded because shrubs are growing up and the grass is getting longer.
“Their habitat is changing and it is going to endanger them.”
Tools will be provided and the clear-out will allow the lizard population to “thrive”.
“If we don’t do something now, it is going to be a lot harder to put it back to how it should be without disturbing the lizards. It is about doing the work now for the future of the colony,” Miss Frost added.
She said the mile-long Lakenham Way was “very special” to the area and needed protecting.
The only other known colony for common lizards in Norwich is on Mousehold Heath.
Professional wildlife photographer Jill Wilson, 51, from Strumpshaw, who regularly photographs common lizards on Lakenham Way, said: “The colony is unique in the fact that it is slap bang in the middle of the city. Like snakes, they are sensitive to noise.
“Any effort that anybody takes to protect the common lizard habitat is superb. Lakenham Way ought to be classified as a nature reserve.”
The conservation work takes place between 10.15am and 3.30pm and volunteers should wear sturdy clothes and take their own food and drink.
Those taking part should meet at the Sandy Lane end of Lakenham Way, just off the railway bridge.
For more information call Miss Frost on 07904 584555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org