Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tuesday 14th. April 2009

Left home in hazy sunshine , with the promise of the cloud burning off , heading for Fackenden Down . By the time I got to the top of Pollhill , what sun there was had gone , and a cool breeze was blowing , and that was what it was like on the site , with the breeze blowing along the slope .
Although the car temperature guage read 12C , it definately didn't feel like it .
Anyway , I set to , checking the site for reptiles . The usually good areas for Adders were empty , but the refugia were holding Slow Worms , mostly the felts . In total , 43 Slow Worms were recorded , and the largest number any one felt was five .As I took this shot of them , they all decided en mass , to leave the premises . A total of 4 Adders were recorded , none of them under refugia , and amongst them , my first female of the season on this site . I found her lying right in the corner of one of the corrugated tins .
I am posting below a shot of a male , found lying on a path . When I first saw it , it was so flattened out , to absorb as much warmth as possible , that it looked absolutely enormous . Unfortunately , he saw me before I could get in position for a clear shot , and went for cover . Looking at the two animals , it can be seen that the zig-zag markings on the male , are much more defined than those on the female . Also , the females tend to be this warm brown colour , but there are always the ones that don't comply to the norm .
The only other reptile found , was a juvenile Common Lizard , hanging out in a hammock on the edge of a hedgeline . Also found in the hedgeline was Greater Stitchwort , a member of the Pink family . Later on , Lesser Stichwort will be found in similar places . Even though the growing period is only just beginning , some of the grasses have already started to produce seed heads . In the more shaded areas , the first flowering spikes of Lords and Ladies-Arum maculatum .
The purple spadix is not actually the flower . The male and female flowers are found in the bulbus part below , and flies and other insects are often trapped by downward-pointing hairs above the male flowers . The insects then crawl over the female flowers , thus bringing pollen from another spadex to fertilise the flowers , which become the red/orange berries we see later in the year . On the chalk grassland areas , the first Crosswort-Cruciata laevipes , a member of the Bedstraw family , is coming into flower . Butterflies were few and far between , but in the odd sheltered spots , I recorded 7 Peacock , 1 Brimstone , and first of the year , 3 Speckled Woods , two of them already engaged in an arial territorial battle . Birdwise it was nothing unusual , with 3 singing Blackcaps , 2 singing Chiffchaffs and several Skylaks being of note .
Back home for lunch in the garden , but we already have worries about the Blue Tit nest . Carol was in the garden all morning , and saw no movement around the box . Whilst eating lunch we were joined by one of the resident Robins who helped me with my sandwiches , and also by the female Blackbird , who has a nest a couple of gardens along .
Tomorrow , which is forecasted to be the hottest day of the year so far , we will be doing the first Dormouse and Reptile survey of the year , up on the Greensand Ridge .


Warren Baker said...

Them snakes do look big! I see you had another interesting day despite the 'orrible weather. Hottest day of the year tomorrow eh? well i'll be on the beach! I bet that Cuckoo turns up!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Another full interesting day,Always nice to see the Adder Photo's, also a good count of Slow Worm's. Good luck with any Dormouse sighting tomorrow.
Thank's for the pond plant I.D.

Phil and Mandy said...

Hi Greenie, lovely snake shots, I have never had the pleasure of seeing a snake in the wild. Phil

ShySongbird said...

Lovely Adder photos Greenie, it's some time since I saw one.
I believe the Coltsfoot has been used as a treatment for asthma, I would try it if I knew what to do with it!!
Lovely photo of the Speckled Wood also. I took a pic of one in the garden yesterday but it came out blurred. Also loved the Robin and Blackbird photos.
Good luck with the survey, Dormice are such lovely little creatures.

ShySongbird said...

Sorry Greenie, I was catching up with your previous posts and the Coltsfoot comment referred to one of those rather than this one.