In 2007 the National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) published a request for help with a national survey, with a map showing randomly selected 1km squares for which volunteer surveyors were needed. Several of these were in the Limewoods area, and one fell completely within the Chambers block of woodlands. Volunteers were found to carry out the survey in this 1km square and three other, non-woodland squares in 2007; in succeeding years a further three random squares have been surveyed, and the Chambers square has been covered in every year. Casual records have also been collected from other woods in the Limewoods area.
The survey results have shown that two reptile species, grass snake and common lizard, have very healthy populations throughout the Chambers block, and have also been found by casual observation in several other woods. In contrast, no reptiles have been found outside the woods, although it is likely that grass snakes, which travel widely, are sparsely distributed around the area at a much lower density. In the Chambers block the surveys have also identified probable hibernation areas, which can now be protected.
Following this finding, reptile basking and feeding areas are being created throughout the woods by building log piles wherever woodland management work provides the opportunity. These piles are very quickly colonised by both species, and many are sited along visitor routes. Grass arisings from ride- and meadow-mowing also provide opportunities to create egg-laying areas, particularly for grass-snakes, and these again are quickly used.
Surveys in the existing areas will continue, but volunteers willing to extend regular surveys to other woods would be warmly welcomed.