Sunday, 3 May 2009

Sunday 3rd.May 2009

After a very uncertain morning weatherwise , the afternoon seemed to be more suitable for a stroll on the Greensand Ridge , near Westerham .
Of course , being on the Ridge without lifting a few tins would be unheard of . It was really pleasant in the sun , but without it , it did feel chilly in the breeze . I only found two Adders , one a male in full breeding colours , and the other , a female that would probably rate as one of the largest Adders that I have ever seen . I saw her originally curled up on a tree stump in a brash pile , but on my way back to the car , I had another look , and she had moved away from the brash pile , to take advantage of the late afternoon sun . I would estimate her length at 65cm + , and wouldn't be surprised if she made 75cm. She would have made the male , pictured first , look small , not only in length , but also in girth . Along with the two Adders , six Grass Snakes were found either under , or very close to refugia . One of them , probably another female , made the female Adder look small . A surprise find under one of the felt refugia , was this Hornets nest . I don't think it is complete yet , and there were no eggs in the perfectly formed five sided cells . Last year , I found one of these on the underside of the lid of a Dormouse box , and that one had grubs in the cells . In the close vicinity , I found two Hornets , but didn't manage a shot of either . The only other reptile found was a Slow Worm , but it was nice to find one in a natural situation , rather than under refugia . In the sunlight , this male looked like he was made of quicksilver . Identified as a male by being single coloured , the females being two toned . Also found unexpectedly in the woodland , were my first Large Red Damselflies of the year , hawking for insects and settling on Bramble leaves , and both male and female as well . The male having dark markings just on two of the last three segments , and the female , this one of form intermedia , one of three forms , having the dark markings all along the abdomen . The other two forms of female have more and less black markings . There is a similar Damselfly , the Small Red Damselfly , but that is obviously smaller , has red legs , and is found mainly on heathland habitat .
The Bluebells are still looking really good , and it's always strange to find the odd one out in a sea of blue . One sad thing I did come across , was this poor thing , suffering from myxomatosis , I'm sure it couldn't see properly , and just buried it's head in the grass till I went past . Probably a short lifeexpectancy for the youngster . Butterflies recorded on site were , Brimstone , Speckled Wood ,Large and Green Veined White and Orange Tip . Birdwise , all the usual suspects turned up , and the singing was done by Blackcap and Chiffchaff , with two Willow Warblers duelling for who could sing loudest .
And finally , a Grass Snake of indeterminate length , as both head and tail were buried deep in the leaf litter under a refugia .


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
What a great day for wildlife watching.A lovely set of photo's you took today, aspecially the Hornets nest showing the inner shambers.
Tell me Fred, you are very knowledgeable when it comes to wildlife, I was wondering, are you self taught?
God knows what Warren will say if he reads this.

Warren Baker said...

Well done greenie on your first Damselfly of the year.
Tomorrows weather looks a bit unpromising for reptiles and butterflies.
Oh, and ken, Greenie is self taught, ok he is 106 years old, but self taught he is!

Greenie said...

Ken ,
I prefer the word 'enthusiastic' rather than 'knowledgeable' .
Got interested at an early age , went out for a long time with two old boys , one not with us now , who showed me a lot , and general reading and reference books .
If I find something , I just keep digging till I find out what it is .
But no courses or college training .

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie
Well all that hard work has certainly paid off.