Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Slow worms (not glow worms)

There continues to be something wonderfully circular about this blog. Or do I mean cyclical? Both probably. Something reassuringly the-same-but-different about the content of the posts, which really I suppose is about the content of my life.

So, just over a year ago I posted this description of an evening spent on the downs behind our house, searching for glow worms. This week we have been counting slow worms here in our garden. The environmental assessment of this place, determining whether it is too important ecologically to be built on, continues. Some soft spoken men arrived last week and tolerated Ruby's enthusiastic jumping up very good naturedly as they explained that they would need to put several carpet tiles (they may actually be more than just carpet tiles but that's what they look like) in spots around the garden, and then return each day to count any lizards, snakes and slow worms underneath them.

A week later, they are averaging six to eight slow worms under each tile! Plus the occasional grass snake, and they are fairly sure that if they looked frequently enough they would find an adder or two. They also found one small lizard that ran off before they identified it. The badger set has been confirmed as active, and as well as a small group of friendly Roe deer we have both stoats and mink - it was an evil mink that butchered our chickens several months ago.

They've noted down several interesting variations of wild orchid, and some blue butterflies which may be of the rarer varieties.

They haven't done a bird assessment yet, but we have both of the major types of bat native to the UK ... so all in all it's a pretty comprehensive checklist of protected species.

The environmental assessment guy told me today that he loves visiting our house, because he feels like he is back in Canada - his favourite place he has ever lived. He told me that the patch of overgrowth we were rummaging in, the clearing where the grass is tall and thick with flowers, where clouds of crickets and butterflies are kicked up with every step and lizards slither away unseen, where you can make out the shapes of the deer who slept there the night before, is intended to be a carpark for the development. Of course.

Slow worms are quite amazing creatures really. They live for up to 30 years in the wild, almost twice as long in captivity. I'd guess that some of our slow worms have been in this garden longer than the architects on the project have known how to hold a pencil. And suddenly I can understand why perfectly normal people end up chaining themselves to bulldozers!

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Blogger JJ said...

Absolutely with you on the bulldozer chaining theory. It sounds really wonderful. I remember my Dad bringing slow worms and grass snakes in to show us when we were little - and oddly they've made it into my novel ... kind of. It sounds really gorgeous in your garden. Lucky Ruby.

08 August, 2007 03:48  
Blogger The Cornish Cowgirl said...

I have only ever seen a slow worm once and that was on my drive way in Guildford. I wonder what it is about Guildford they like so much!

08 August, 2007 10:41  
Blogger Miss Tickle said...

I would like to offer my services as a chainee should the worst come to the worst. It is against everything good that places like yours end up as car parks. Joni was right.

08 August, 2007 10:54  
Blogger Jon M said...

I've never seen a slow worm, we have newts and toads and stuff but not snakey, wormy things. I'd love to see one. Incredible how we overlook these things so easily in our haste to build!

08 August, 2007 12:09  
Anonymous lavenderblue said...

What a wonderful place to be !
I so hope that 'they' cannot destroy it..........

08 August, 2007 16:40  
Blogger That's so pants said...

Hi Stray

How lovely and idyllic. Sounds like you will be there for some time to come. Give my love to the slow worms.



08 August, 2007 19:57  
Anonymous Daisy-Winifred said...

Maybe some serious building of tree houses should begin! Benders in the sky... better still some small homes built using the materials at hand and not impacting on the already settled residents but adding aspects of life to enhance the whole community so worms and birds and humans could continue to live rather than get trampled and only have shopping as 'compensation'. Co-housing/intentional community/complimentary living zone, maybe oh so nice Surrey needs a lighthouse:0)

09 August, 2007 17:45  
Blogger Ms Melancholy said...

Perhaps we could all come and chain ourselves, in a blog-rota? I am happy to live in a bender for a while, and I know some fab Greenham songs...

10 August, 2007 05:02  

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