Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sunday 16th.November 2008

Following my last post , regarding the Stag Beetle larvae , Warren asked if I had exposed the grubs .
A good while ago I came across a nice piece of Oak , that looked as if it might have been a seat earlier in it's life . I took it home , cleaned it up , and managed to aqquire a couple of Oak legs to return it to it's former use , and fashioned a rustic seat which we had on the patio . After some time , Carol noticed piles of wood dust under it and removed the seat which was just placed on top of the two legs , the weight of the seat holding things in place . She found seven of the larvae munching their way through one of the legs and also the underside of the seat above the leg . We carefully removed the whole thing from the patio , and reassembled it in the bottom corner of the garden , where it still remains .
To get yesterday's picture , I simply took off the seat and the larvae were in the top of the left hand leg in the picture . A close up of the top of the same leg shows how rotten the inner wood is .

I think the eggs were layed whilst in situ on the patio , and as the larvae take up to seven years to mature , it might have quite a stay in that corner of the garden . We have found adult females in the garden in the past , but not for the last 3/4 years .

Today , thankfully , before the rain I spent with a member of the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group and another surveyor , deciding on any changes to the refugia up on the Greensand Ridge near Westerham . Decisions were made to move , remove or leave each tin/felt . Nothing was expected to be found at this time of year , but under one of the tins was this Grass Snake .

I think it is the same one that I have had under that tin on my last three visits . The rest of the refugia produced absolutely nothing , until we got to the last two pairs , about 5mtrs. apart , on the edge of a pond . As we were approaching , Nick , the other surveyor was saying that he had recorded a Great Crested Newt there , either last visit or the one before . I told him about the juvenile that I had found under refugia , and mentioned it would be good to find an adult . The first tin was lifted , and there underneath was a male Great Crested Newt .
If you look along the spine of the back , you can see the crest , deflated now , as it's main use is in courting during the breeding season . All three of us got our shots , then he slowly waddled off into the vegetation . We all felt chuffed to see a rare amphibian . The felt next to thew tin had nothing . Jokingly , as we walked the 5mtrs. to the last pair of refugia , I said ' well , we only need the female now' . The last felt was lifted , and there was a female GCN . Unbelievable . She was a bit quicker to disappear into the vegetation , but I got a couple of shots first .

As you can see , she doesn't have the crest down her back . We left the area well pleased with what we had found . Throughout the 2/3 hours we were out , there was hardly any birds or calls , not even the Tawny Owl I usually get in the area . Also on the bird front , still no sign of the female Brambling .


Steve said...

So jealous about your Great Crested Newts Fred! Great pictures as well....I think I saw some when I was a young kid but not come across any since...keep us posted with the Stag Beetles

Warren Baker said...

Thanks for enlightening me on the larvea Greenie.
I have got some GCN in one of my small ponds in my garden, i'll have to get a pic of one next summer.