On the trail of a big fat lizard..

I’ve been asked to review a new book, about the naturalized animals of Britain and Ireland.  I’m not going to let you in on what I think of the book, as that will be released elsewhere – but reading the bit about reptiles reminded me that I had yet to track down the green lizards at Boscombe.

With a hot sunny day ahead I decided to get to the site early.  Two reasons:  1. To find the lizards basking, before they get warmed up and too active.   2.  To get the shots and be back home again in time for the start of the Grand prix (9am).  

A Male Wheatear. No, I have no idea how it got the name. I would have called it Gary..

So, at 7.30am I was wandering along the cliff top at Boscombe looking for lizards.  Two Wheatear were nice to see, just landed after crossing the Channel.  The sun was up, yet I couldn’t find anything except a few runners and dog walkers – who all seemed oblivious to my concerns about the lack of lizard action. Eventually, one of the dog walkers was able to tell me where the ‘big fat lizards’ live (precisely where I had already been looking as it happened) -although she also added that she hadn’t seen any there in over 20 years and thought it might be just a rumour to get more visitors to the area!

It's big, it's sort of browny-green. It's a female Green Lizard - obviously.

I decided to give it another go, before I’d have to head back sharpish for the race.  Still no joy.  Then, just as I turned towards the car park I glimpsed a familiar shape clinging to a grassed bank.  A big, fat lizard!  Not particularly green as such – but it was my first green lizard! (only the males are coloured bright green, the females are more brownish – greenish).

One of the many Wall lizards...

After that it got a bit hectic..  Wall lizards seemed to be everywhere and I spent ages walking the paths on the hunt for them and showing them to a few walkers, cyclists and one runner – who stopped to see what I was photographing. 

And another....

It was quite amazing to see their reaction when I pointed out a brightly coloured lizard that they no doubt passed every weekend for years without any idea that they even existed! 

By now, the Grand prix had already started so I saw no harm in staying a while longer as more and more lizards were starting to show up.  Finally, just as I was resigned to partial failure, the reason for my quest was there – literally perched on top of a bit of gorse. 

Can you see it? About half way up the image, and about a quarter across from the right hand edge - in amongst the yellow of the gorse...

A beauty of a male Green lizard! 

There he is a bit closer...


This is as close as I could get without clambering into the gorse.

I snapped away for a good ten minutes before someone stopped next to me, gasped at the colour of the lizard and tried to take a picture on their mobile..  Obviously not happy with the choice of phone, the lizard scampered away.

Not to worry, it was time for me to get going anyway – although a lovely Small copper butterfly did delay me slightly as I made my way back to the car.

A small copper. With the orange wings I'd have been tempted to call it a small orange - but then it could get confused with a satsuma...

I got home in time to miss the race start by over two hours, so my wife and I watched it over lunch ( my wife had decided to record it anyway just in case I was a bit late back  – me? late?? never!!)

Oh yes, the book review….  It will be included in the summer edition of the Dorset Wildlife Trust newsletter and I’m giving nothing away until then 😉

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4 Responses to On the trail of a big fat lizard..

  1. Richard Heddington says:

    Re: Gary the wheatear.
    I believe he got his name from the old english ‘white arse’, referring to it’s white rump.

  2. Chris Senior says:

    Wow! Didn’t even know that we had a bright green lizard in this country. Wonderful photos and what a lot of patience you have to not only get up early but to stick at your search. Hope you enjoyed the Race.

  3. lisa lawley says:

    Hi Steve, love the blog, really interesting. I hadn’t thought of the Boscombe cliffs. Great to know the Lizards are there and doing well. 🙂 You made me laugh when you said you were late home and missed the race. I swear we must get abducted by aliens or something, because we all seem to lose time? lol.

  4. Paul says:

    Hi Steve ,your beauty of a male green lizard is a female.

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