The Countryside Regeneration Trust’s heathland habitat at Green Farm in Surrey, has yielded encouraging results in this summer’s survey, with a total of 25 reptiles from four different species recorded.

Conservation officer Vince Lea and Green Farm volunteers were on a training session with Howard Inns from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) to review what was using the Artificial Cover Objects (ACOs) that were put down around the heathland in January this year.

The tin sheets, sometimes referred to as Refugia, are a vital component for reptile surveying as they make detecting that much easier as many species love nothing better than basking under them or on them, absorbing the heat they generate and providing protection from predators.

The ACO’s helped them record 15 common lizard, six slow worm (example below), three grass snake, and one adder - excellent results that show how Green Farm’s heathland habitat is perfect for reptiles. Some of the records came from sightings in the heathland and on the tracks between ACO checks as well as those seen using them.

“These are really good numbers and diversity,” explained Vince. “It really shows that Green Farm’s heathland has the potential to provide the right environment for reptiles. We had hopes for perhaps a sand lizard or smooth snake but those are exceptionally rare and just providing conditions for the four widespread species is really pleasing.”

“Howard was an inspiring trainer with decades of experience, but he was clearly impressed by the results, especially seeing a completely black (melanistic) common lizard, something he reckons to see one of every five years. We know there are many more adders on site, as ten were seen in the spring and some recently born young were reported this summer, but they are generally less active in high summer. Adders are in serious decline and an important priority species for this site.”

While surveying, the team also spotted another heathland species, a nightjar (example below), which gave every indication that it was nesting in the area. While nightjar have been seen previously, the bird’s behaviour on this occasion suggested that it had a nest to protect. As a result, the survey was moved away from where the nightjar was seen and a note has been made to stay away from the site during the breeding season.

More information:

Survey confirms presence of endangered adders ( (Published March 2023)

Reptile Recon at Green Farm ( (Published February 2023)

If you’d like to get involved in volunteering on Green Farm or another CRT farm near you, contact us:


Published: August 2023

How you can help

We are currently running twelve appeals to support the countryside in our Twelve Gifts of Christmas campaign, including raising money to buy monitoring covers for reptiles. You can make a donation from yourself or as a Christmas gift for friends and family at Monitoring covers for reptiles.

Monitoring covers for reptiles                       Twelve Gifts of Christmas