Wiggling away from Worle railway station
By Prue_Reid | Saturday, September 01, 2012, 09:19
The race is on to re-house Worle reptiles before they hibernate in late October.
Snakes alive at Worle railway station
They then enter burrows underground, usually in the root balls of grass tussocks, shrubs and in woodpiles.
The council has already moved 173 slow-worms and 17 grass snakes from the scrubby Worle Station site.
Before work can start on the Worle Station scheme, where 320 more car parking spaces will be created, reptiles must be removed.
As native UK reptile species are protected from killing and injury under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, these species must be considered before site clearance can start.
Most of the slow worms have been trapped from the west and south of the site which were close to locations of scrub and thin soil with building debris and patchy grassland, while the snakes have mainly been captured from the longer grassland to the east of the site, closer to the drainage rhyne which flows alongside the site.
Grass snakes are well known for their fondness of water and for eating amphibians such as frogs and newts.
Consultant ecologist Harry Fox said: "The reptiles are caught individually by hand using squares of roofing felt and corrugated tin which have been laid out across the site.
"These materials warm up faster than their surroundings and attract cold-blooded animals to bask early and late in the day.
"As the materials are lifted and turned over the reptiles beneath can be collected."
The captured reptiles have been moved to the Rug Hill Nature Reserve near Cheddar on the Somerset levels.
The reserve has a mixture of long, rough grassland, grazed meadows, an orchard and a newly created pond, as well as badgers.
This, with its proximity to the waterways of the levels means that it will be an ideal site for re-housing the Worle reptiles.
The Worle Station scheme is one of five schemes that make up the Weston Package.
The schemes are:
- Improvements to junction 21 of the M5 to reduce queuing off the motorway;
- Improvements to the A370 including widening Marchfields Way to allow two-way traffic and provide new bus and cycle routes;
- New car park and bus interchange at Worle Station plus improved cycle and motorcycle facilities;
- New bus links from Queensway to the station; and
- Bus priority along Elmham Way, linking the regeneration areas.