Common lizards (Lacerta vivipara/Zootoca vivipara), nr Parkend in Forest of Dean.

At around 11am last Sunday (11 August) I saw a group of 5 to 8 common lizards sun bathing on a fence rail where the Forest of Dean cycle trail crosses the B4234 to the north of Parkend (OS map ref: SO6107 0888).  I was cycling with friends at the time and first thought that the lizards were simply darker stains on the fence!   The lizards were all small (approx. 50mm seemed to be the maximum length) so I guess that they may have been youngsters.  They were very dark in colour, with little discernable dorsal colouration although a darker stripe could be made out along the spine (they were certainly far darker to other common lizards I’ve seen).  The undersides appeared lighter and more orangey in colour towards the head (although we couldn’t see the underside as the lizards were hugging the (warm) wooden rail).  The lizards were perfectly happy being watched and were present on our northwards outwards cycle (when we counted 5 animals) and the southbound return (when we counted 8).  The weather was good and the sun was coming through the morning cloud cover, so the lizards were presumably warming up for the day as they were reluctant to move and we could get quite close.  The surrounding vegatation was primarily bracken and grasses on the edge of broad-leaf woodland.  They made for fascinating watching and I only wished I had my camera or phone on me (memo to self: take next time!) as they would have made excellent subjects.

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