I've told Carol that when I go , I would like my ashes sprinkled over a nice bit of countryside , seeing as I spend most of my time there . Obviously this person thought the same , but why didn't they take home the urn ?
Arriving on site about 0930 , there was still a cool wind blowing , but the birdsong made me forget that . 2 or 3 Willow Warblers were competing against each other , and the were interspersed with two Tree Pipits , my first of the year . Blackcap ( pictured ) and Chiffchaff joined in , and in the distance a Cuckoo . It gradually worked it's way towards me and I was ready with the camera , but then it went off in another direction . Other birds seen/heard included Coal , Blue and Great Tit , Bullfinch and Chaffinch ,Wren , Robin , Pheasant , Song Thrush , Nuthatch , Jay , Carrion Crow , Sparrowhawk , Swallow and Pheasant . On previous year's visits , I have been treated to views and song of Dartford Warbler , but it wasn't to be today .
A close up of the head shows the round pupil , same as the Grass Snake , not like the vertical pupil of the Adder . He stayed posing for so long , then made his way off . I found two Smooth Snakes and whilst looking , came across two female Adders , this being one of them .
I headed straight to where the Sand Lizards were released a few years ago , and where I have been fortunate enough to get shots of a single animal on two occassions . The conditions seemed ideal , with the sun just warming up their bank of sand , but it wasn't to be today , despite a lot of walking and concentrated looking , none were seen . What were about in numbers , were Green Tiger Beetles -Cicindela campestris , scuttling around on the open areas , and flying off as soon as I got too close . By 1130 , and with no sightings of Sand Lizard , I changed my attention to the rare Smooth Snake . I was luckier with this species , finding one after about half an hour of looking . As can be seen from this shot , it does not have the zig-zag back pattern of the Afdder , or the yellow collar of the Grass Snake . It is also a smaller animal than either of the other two snakes .
As I said , the wind was quite strong , and at one time , I sat and watched a Dor Beetle -Geotropes stercorarius , making several unsuccessful attempts to take off from the Heather . Eventually , after a long struggle , it made it into the air , and I was lucky enough to capture that moment , as the wing covers were lifted and the wings deployed . All over the site Billberry is finishing flowering , and the small fruits are starting to form .I mentioned the other day that I recorded good numbers of Brimstone butterflies at Salt Box Hill , but this site was incredible for the species . I only walked a small part , but would estimate seeing 50+ Brimstones , and not a surprise really , as I passed a small copse that was made up completely of Buckthorn , their food plant . I can honestly say , I have never seen so much Buckthorn in one place . Other species seen were , Orange Tip (2) , Large White (2) , Peacock (3) and Speckled Wood (2) .
Earlier in the day , I had missed a photo chance of a Roe Buck , as it crossed the track behind me , and by the time I turned around , got the camera out , he was gone into the vegetation . Just after passing the Buckthorn copse , I saw movement , and it turned out to be a Roe Buck getting up onto it's feet . It could well have been the same one , but I couldn't be positive . As I made my way back to the car , I found this on the ground .