Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sunday 19th.April 2009

Today was a long standing arrangement to show one of the lads from the Hedgelaying group , and his son , both nature enthusiasts , some of the reptiles up on the Greensand Ridge , and as they were travelling down from Hertfordshire , the forecast for today was just right .
We met up at 10 o'clock this morning , not a sign of the sun , brisk cold wind blowing over the Ridge , and a temperature of 7C on the car thermometer . Perfect if you were looking for Penguins .
We made the best of it at two sites , but with those conditions , very little was found . Arriving at the third site , it was a bit warmer , being partly protected from the wind . Slowly , but surely , the cloud moved off and was replaced by blue sky , and the temperature rose markedly . With the increase of temperature came a change in luck , when we found the first Adder , a male in full breeding colours . He wasn't phased at all by our presence , and carried on with his business . He was moving parellel to the path we were walking on , and we watched him for a good 3/4 minutes , before moving on .
It wasn't long before we found another male , sunning himself infront of a tree stump , and not seen immediately , was a large Grass Snake tucked into the vegetation , which took off at speed .
Another large Grass Snake was briefly glimpsed on the other side of the path , between two fallen trees . The usual haunts were not coming up with the goods today , but then as we walked across a meadow , there in front of us , a good 2 mtrs. from cover , was yet another male . He made no effort to get to cover , and gave a great close encounter for all . Plenty of pictures were taken , and then finally , a couple of flicks of the tongue , and at his own pace , made his way to cover . This close up shows the beautiful red eye and vertical pupil of the Adder . Both the other British snakes , the Grass and the Smooth , both have round pupils . Around the pond , we found an adult and a sub.adult Grass Snake under a tin refugia . On our way back , the Adder was out again , this time lying on the sunny side of an ant hill . As we recrossed the meadow , a female Orange Tip was found resting on the sunny side of a hedge . One further Adder sighting was made near where we parked the cars , and only 25mtrs. from where we had our first sighting , so he could have been the original animal or a new one . Well pleased with what they had seen , and me well pleased that some animals showed up , the Hertfordshire pair set off home .
As the sun was still shining , and I was passing close by , I returned to High Elms to see if I could get either of the butterfly species that I failed on yesterday . The Orange Tips , Brimstones , Speckled Woods and Peacocks were all on the wing , but I was looking for smaller species . I find that the only way to find Grizzled Skipper on this site , is to walk under the overhead power cables and wait for them to take off in front of you . This I did , and after 20 minutes or so , a small , fast flying insect shot off in front of me . Following them in flight is very difficult , but luckily I saw where this one landed , and crept up on it , camera in hand . The wingspan of this butterfly is not much bigger than your thumbnail , and the typical clubbed antennae can be seen . More often than not , you find them in this position , rather than with wings closed . On the way back to the car , I stopped to look for any sign of Bird's Nest Orchids . There was nothing showing of this year's plants yet , but a seed stalk of one of last year's was still standing , amongst the Hazel coppice stools . And finally , another of my favourite colour combinations .

6 comments:

Warren Baker said...

You really excelled yourself with the photo's today greenie. Glad you at least got some of the sunshine. I was at an eighty year olds birthday party. yaaaawn.

Kingsdowner said...

Your chase after the Grizzled Skipper was worthwhile, resulting in a great pic.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Pleased you was able to satisfy your guests today. You got some real good photo's today, especially the Skipper, 1st time I have seen one.Also great Snake pics.

ShySongbird said...

Very interesting post as always, lovely photo of the Grizzled Skipper, your patience was rewarded.
I too have always loved seeing Violets and Primroses together.

baggywrinkles said...

Hi Greenie
As always great shots of the Adder. Unfortunateley did not make it to Suffolk health problem but okay now, I did a lot of hedging and laying on Exmoor Beech mainly, but that was back in the sixties when I was young and fit.
All the best
Dave

Warren Baker said...

Greenie,
re. those Orchids, yes they are that colour! They are a deep purple. ( no smoke on water jokes please)