Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Wednesday 24th.September 2008

That time of the month again , to comply with the Mammal Society-Dormouse monitoring scheme , the 25th. is the last day to complete surveys , so today we checked the 70 Dormouse boxes , together with the 41 pairs of refugia layed by Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group , along the Greensand Ridge near Westerham .

The day started , as it finished , and the in between bit , with drizzly , miserable rain . Even if it wasn't raining , the vegetation was so wet , that you got soaked anyway , either dripping from above or brushing into it on the ground .
The first batch of 50 boxes produced two adult male specimens . In the woods under overcast skies , it was almost like night time . As I have said before , I will not use flash on the animals , so under these conditions , the picture quality is poor . Once sexed and weighed , they couldn't wait to get back into their cosy home , away from the weather . Also found , but without any animal in it was a box with an 'overnight nest' in it , just a few green Hazel leaves in the bottom . By the time we had checked all 50 we were quite wet , but the first 5 pairs of refugia , which are sited amongst bracken and bilberry up to waist high , really soaked us , and all for one juvenile Slow Worm . The next 5 pairs , amongst heather was more productive , with two juvenile Grass Snakes found but no sign of any adults , more sense in these weather conditions .
Under another felt , we found an adult Common Lizard with two juveniles . One of the juveniles
disappeared under the vegetation , and the adult was just about to leave as well , but I managed this shot of the two of them in the same frame . The adult shot off , but the juvenile was happy to pose for a solo portrait shot .
The next 15 pairs of refugia on this site produced nothing more than juvenile Slow Worms . Just singles until one managed to double the number .
As juveniles , the dark area on the head and the dorsal line down the back are more prominent , and age will make them much less so .

The last 20 boxes and 16 pairs of refugia were at another site , so after lunch we headed off , soggily to do them . The 20 boxes produced 4 more Dormice , including a male and female pair in one box . If they do decide to start a family , they will be pushed to get the youngsters up to a good weight , which will enable them to hibernate successfully . The weather was even worse now , so any photos were impossible . Interestingly , no Copper Underwings were found in the boxes today , so I assume their flight period is over now .

Fungi was sporadic to say the least , but one good specimen of Amanita muscaria-Fly Agaric was found , one of just a few this year , normally more prolific . The white spots are bits of the veil

which encloses the whole thing as it erupts out of the ground . The only other out of the ordinary fungi found , were these three specimens of Phallus impudicus-Stinkhorn . The middle one has almost finished , but the two white eggs either side , are fungi about to emerge . The eggs will soon rupture , as the white , hollow stalks , extending up to 25cm. , emerge out of them . The head of the stalk , coloured dark olive and smelling of rotting flesh and containing the spores of the fungi , will attract flies , and these in turn will disperse the spores , carried on their legs .

Once all the surveys had been finished , we headed back to the yard , then home to get out of the soaked clothing .

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

A good day despite the wet Greenie. You take care now, don't want you catching a cold.