Meet the North East’s own Planet Earth II cast

Baby iguanas in a scene from BBC1's Planet Earth II. Copyright BBC

Baby iguanas in a scene from BBC1's Planet Earth II. Copyright BBC

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Millions of television viewers have been enthralled by footage of killer snakes chasing a baby iguana on BBC’s new Planet Earth II series.

While the North East cannot quite match such sights - except perhaps during drink-fuelled disputes on a Saturday night - our region still plays host to a surprising variety of reptiles.

A female common lizard basks in the sun.

A female common lizard basks in the sun.

Adders, grass snakes, slow worms and common lizards are all native to our countryside.

Now the public is invited to an event at Rainton Meadows Visitors Centre, in Chilton Moor, near Houghton-le-Spring, to learn more about a two-year project to study and protect such wildlife.

The initiative will be led by new Durham Wildlife Trust Revealing Reptiles project officer John Grundy.

Mr Grundy said: “The project aims to involve local residents from all walks of life in getting out and surveying for reptiles across the whole county to increase our knowledge of these shy, often misunderstood, animals.

Wildlife officer John Grundy

Wildlife officer John Grundy

“This information can be used to co-ordinate better habitat management and conservation plans in the future.

“My aim is to get people on board who either don’t like or don’t know much about reptiles. They are the ones who will benefit most from learning and expanding their horizons.

“Of course, keen reptile fans will also be very welcome to help out.”

The Revealing Reptiles project is funded by the Heritage Lottery and Mr Grundy added: “Having been told by my parents at the age of nine I couldn’t have a pet triceratops I decided living reptiles would be the focus of my interests.

A slow worm captured on camera.

A slow worm captured on camera.

“I was instantly hooked and have in various ways been involved in reptile conservation and surveying throughout most of my life.

“Most of my spare time has been spent wandering the moors of County Durham spotting reptiles. I have spent more than thirty years honing my skills as a spotter of these elusive and well camouflaged animals. I love being outdoors and enjoy giving groups and interested individuals training in doing the same.

The launch takes place at Rainton Meadows Visitor Centre on Saturday from 10.30am-12.30pm.

There will be a short introduction to the project with a display of the target species. Refreshments will be provided.

Anyone interested in joining can contact Mr Grundy by email on jgrundy@durhamwt.co.uk or by telephone on (0191) 5843112.

Full training will be provided and no experience is necessary.

The iguana chase episode of Planet Earth II is repeated at 4.15pm on Sunday on BBC1 with the second episode shown for the first time later that night at 8pm on the same channel.

Video: Meet Rainton Meadows’ geese