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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Shoreham Wall Lizard Colony

I recently learned that there is a colony of wall lizards - Podarcis muralis - living just along the coast from me. The next day I hopped on a bus and went to have a look.

The wall lizards were less numerous and harder to approach in the shingle of the nature reserve.
The colony is in Shoreham by the old fort. Although I did not see any lizards on the old fort itself, there were some in the adjoining shingle beach nature reserve and there were lots on the garden walls along Old Fort Road - I think I saw about 40 lizards on this one trip!

The pedestrian access alleyways running between Old Fort Road and the beach seemed to be particularly fertile lizard-watching turf.

Wall lizards are not native to mainland Britain. They do live in France, but many of these individuals had bold green and blue markings strongly suggesting they originated from somewhere further south - maybe Italy. (French wall lizards are mostly shades of brown.)

This is the only photo of a female wall lizard - they are smaller, less brightly coloured and more camera-shy than their mates. They are also more stripey, less spotty.
They really do like walls - they can scuttle across sheer surfaces in any direction with speed and confidence. They are among those lucky few animal species that can not only survive but actually prosper in urban environments.

Here's a website with more info on UK wall lizard populations.

 And here's another about non-native UK reptiles and amphibians more generally.

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