In the spring of 2013, some 500 slow worms were translocated from a development site in Holbrook Lane, Trowbridge, to three sites in Southwick Country Park. Leo Wirtz, the then-leader of the Countryside Team, and his deputy Ali Rasey, set up the move with Windrush Ecology, who were the environmental consultants at the Holbrook Lane site.
Prior to the move, the Friends of the park and the translocation team built a hibernaculum in each of the three sites: the Arboretum, the copse by the picnic area, and the top of Village Green. Hibernacula are the shelters of hibernating animals and in this case comprised a mound of logs and rubble with a turf covering.
In the summer of 2016, fifty more slow worms were translocated to the park from St. Mary’s School, Marlborough, which was was due for development.
Slow worms (Anguis fragilis), despite their name and appearance, are not worms or snakes; they are legless lizards. Like all lizards, they can shed and re-grow their tails, and they have eyelids and ear-openings. They are carnivores that eat slugs and invertebrates in damp, tussocky grassland, and they give birth to live young.
This summer the Friends and the Countryside Team intend to survey the park’s slow worm population; with luck we will be able to return to the subject with photographs and figures.
In collaboration with Ian B
Photographs by DKG