Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Wednesday 15th April 2009

Well , today's first Dormouse and Reptile survey of the year , up on the Greensand Ridge , was a lot of effort for very little reward . Seven hours of surveying , produced not a single Dormouse , not that we expected to find many , but we sometimes find the odd torpid , semi-hibernating , animal at this time of year , but not this one . Also , we tend to find 50-60% of boxes occupied by Tits and the odd Wren , but this year , that figure was much lower . We found a completed Wren's nest in the same box that was used last year , and the Tit nests varied from the odd bits of moss , up to this one with six eggs already laid . Fortunately , the birds will be finished with the boxes before the Dormice need them for their families .
Reptiles were even more scarce on a day , once the mist lifted , seemed perfect for them . Of the 33 pairs of refugia lifted on two sites , only three Slow Worms were found under them , and three Grass Snakes and two male Adders found close to them . The two male Adders were in the place where I witnessed combat between two males , fighting over a female , last year . Both males were what some people call 'silverbacks' , as their colouring is an off white and black combination . One 'slough' the shed skin of a snake was found on the Juniper patch .On the way round , I found my first Orchid in flower bud . It is the Common Twayblade , so called because of it's two leaves . It is probably the least colourful of all the Orchids , as it's flowers are green like the leaves and stem , but always good to see . Also found flowering were , Billberry
Red Campion
and Wild Garlic-Ransomes ,
Once the sun came out , butterfly numbers increased dramatically . In all , in excess of 20 Peacocks were recorded , including a couple of pairs with mating on their minds . Brimstones came in with about 8/10 , including this one feeding on Bluebells . Three Orange Tip males were recorded , none stopping for a photo , two Green Veined Whites , and just a single Comma .
Also found were a pair of Bee Flies - making more Bee Flies .
On the way home , I stopped off at Biggin Hill to see how the Early Purple Orchids were doing , and found that one plant had a flower spike , and the first flowers were just opening .
And finally , a very common flower , but I couldn't resist photographing it in hazy sunlight . It is Germander Speedwell .


Phil and Mandy said...

Some more nice shots there Greenie, more snakes, I will see one oneday i am sure in the wild. Thanks for the ID on the Common Lizard I spotted at Dungeness. Phil

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
It sounds like you had quite a day. Nice variety of photo's, I like that.
EGGcerlent picture of the Tit's nest box, and thanks for SHEDDING a light on the snake skin

Ken Browne. said...

PS. Sorry you had no luck with the Dormice

Simon said...

Great post and some really nice photos.

Kingsdowner said...

Congartulations on the first orchid shot of the year! Great to see the downlands starting to bloom!

ShySongbird said...

Interesting post as always and lovely photos. Real shame about the Dormice.

Warren Baker said...

Hi Greenie,
I found some 'purple' orchids in the wet woods, but they were almost finished, what type would they have been.
That tit nest is interesting, the eggs look heavily blotched, i cant tell the size of them, but they may be Coal tits. Probably Great tits though.

Warren Baker said...

Hi again Greenie,
I'll try and get a shot of the orchids tomorrow. They had spotted leaves and spiked flowers, but they were going over.