Recording and Publishing Data on our Wildlife

  

 

Reptiles and Amphibians
 

Common (Smooth) Newt Triturus vulgaris
Commonest newt species in the region

Palmate Newt Triturus helveticus
Common

Northern Crested (Great-crested) Newt Triturus cristatus
Localised populations with strongholds in Greater Manchester, North Cheshire and the Lancashire coastal plain.

Common Toad Bufo bufo
Common

Natterjack Toad Bufo calamita
Common in the dune slacks of the Setfon coast. Re-introduction on the Fylde.

Common Frog Rana temporaria
Common

Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta L.
A 217lbs. male was found alive in the Lune Estuary in October 1927. This was the first ever record for Britain. The specimen is now in the Natural History Museum (Coward, 1927; Ellison, 1959).
A live specimen in the Hilbre Swash on 19th May 1960 was basking on the surface. This was the first record for Cheshire (Ellison, 1948-53).
The only other record to date is a 38cm specimen found alive at Knott End in November 2001. It was rescued by staff from Blackpool Sea Life Centre, named ‘Shelley’, and rehabilitated at Weymouth Sea Life Centre for release back to the wild (L. Eatough, L. Robertson pers. comm.). A report and photograph were published in the Blackpool Evening Gazette on 1st December 2001. A number of other turtles, all reported as Loggerheads, although Green cannot be eliminated with most field records, turned up in the Irish Sea at this time (N. Hammond pers. comm.).

Leatherback Turtle Dermochelys coriacea (L.)
On 26th September 1948 the first local record was made by skipper W.H. Jones and the crew of the fishing boat ‘Ivy’ of Hoylake, although they were unsure of the identity. That evening they described it to the chairman of the local R.N.L.I. and made sketches of its appearance. These were sent to the Natural History Museum by N.F. Ellison and its identification confirmed (Ellison, 1948-53).
A badly decomposed specimen, but with an intact carapace, was washed up at Birkdale in August 1994 (P. Rooney et al) and was buried at Altcar Rifle Ranges. On 3rd October 1997 a partially decomposed Leatherback was reported to the author at Fleetwood Museum. It was measured at 180cm. The carapace was cast and various skeletal remains, including the skull and some flipper bones, were preserved and are now in Fleetwood Museum.
Another, this time live, was reported in Lune Deep, the channel between Fleetwood and Barrow on 2nd August 2003 (N. Hammond, pers. comm.). Sadly, what was presumably this individual, was washed up dead, apparently damaged by a propeller, at Middleton Sands in mid-August (S. Hargreaves, J. Carter pers. comm.). A photo was published in the Lancaster Visitor but the carcass was soon washed away.
Although rare, this species may well be turning up more regularly than we realise in the Irish Sea and perhaps annually. One had been caught dead, bleeding from injuries, in fishing nets 8 miles west of Selker Buoy (54° 15´N, 3° 44´W). (S. Newsham pers. comm.). Two were seen by a survey vessel in the Irish Sea, between the Isle of Man and Sellafield, in late summer 1997 (C. McCarthy pers. comm.) and more recently one was seen swimming around rig DP6 in the Morecambe Bay gas field on 6th September 2002 (P. Marsh, pers. comm.).

Green Turtle Chelonia mydas
On Christmas Day 2001 a dead turtle was found at Knott End (SD357493) by Mr T. McNally. It measured 47cm and was reported to the Natural History Museum. They asked the author to accept it and to keep it frozen until it could be collected for autopsy. This confirmed the identification as Green Turtle, only the sixth ever stranded in British waters since records began in 1748. Sadly, the autopsy also showed it had ingested plastic and rubber from a balloon (R. Deaville pers. comm.).
Turtles face many threats but balloon races, resulting in balloons landing in the sea, are of particular concern because larger marine animals may eat them in mistake for jellyfish. The carapace is preserved in Fleetwood Museum.

Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis
Rare on the dunes of the Sefton coast

Common Lizard Zootoca vivpara
Scarce

Slow Worm Anguis fragilis
Scarce. Most commonly seen in Bolwand and the Silverdate area.

Grass Snake Natrix natrix
Rare

Adder Vipera berus
Scarce. Most commonly found in Bowland.

 

 

 

Bittern by Tony Disley
  Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society
Registered Charity No 500685