Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Tuesday 16th.June 2009

Well , today was the day for the Reptile and Dormouse survey , up on the Greensand Ridge . Trouble was , nobody told them . The first 50 Dormouse boxes , didn't turn up a single animal . There was plenty of cleaning out to do , removing the old Tit nests , hopefully to be ready for the Dormice to use for breeding . The good thing was that not a single dead youngster was found , and only a handful of eggs that hadn't hatched for whatever reason . The other interest found was a wasp's nest on the underside of one of the box lids . As there was a Tit nest to be removed , I took off the lid , and without realising that it was there , put my finger through the nest , which wasn't appreciated by the workers , or the Queen . They flew off , and the break revealed the egg cells at the heart of the nest . This shot shows the white , wax covered , cells that haven't hatched yet , the hatched grubs with the vertical line on them , wriggling about in the cells , and on the bottom , eggs still to be sealed with wax . I carefully put the lid back on the box and withdrew , and as I did so , the workers started returning and entering the box . I'm sure they would have repaired my accidental damage in no time .
The only Dormouse recorded today , was found in the 69th. box out of 70 . It was a very active male , weighing 15 grams , a good weight for the beginning of the breeding season , and no Warren , I'm not strangling him . On the top of the Ridge , Bilberry , a plant of heathland and moors , is in fruit , and in various stages of ripening . In the same area , a very large Grass Snake was found , not under the refugia , I think it was too warm to be under today , but lying in the dappled shade of the Bracken . I think it was a female , and when she did move off , she must have been almost 1mtr. in length . All the refugia in this area failed to have reptiles beneath them , so it was good to find something else of interest , in the shape of this female Emperor Dragonfly . We watched her hawking for insects amongst the Heather , Bracken and Bilberry , and when she finally settled , I managed to get a shot . Where she was hunting is a long way from water , but , having emerged from the water somewhere , she is feeding up , away from the attentions of males , before returning to the water to mate and lay her eggs , to form the next generation . Later on , a juvenile Grass Snake was recorded , this one showing blue eyes , a sign
that it will shortly slough , shed it's skin , when the eyes will return to normal . For all the walking today , only two Adders were recorded , this female under a felt , in the shade of Bracken , and a large male , which was the last reptile recorded before leaving the site . Even the Slow Worms didn't turn up , with just 7 being recorded all day .
Butterflies recorded included Painted Lady , Meadow Brown , Speckled Wood and I am very pleased to say Small Tortoiseshell , for the second day running , when two were found scrapping in a farmyard . Let's hope they are on their way back after a few lean years .
As today was quiet , I'm posting a few shots from the last few days , having a bit more time today . One for Warren , with a pair of Mint Beetles .
Also at Fackenden Down yesterday , whilst looking for Small Blue eggs on Kidney Vetch , I came across this Weevil , I think it might be Phyllobius viridiaeris , and one small patch of the Down , where the Fragrant Orchids are starting to go over , but still making a colourful show .
And finally , A flower I found growing in the dunes near Southport last week , that I had great difficulty identifying . I think it is Common Wintergreen , but I stand to be corrected .

3 comments:

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Sorry that you didn't have any luck with the Dormice today. Nice shot of the Mint Beetles, and Pam, thinks your Dormouse photo is cute.....well who can say different.

Warren Baker said...

69th box eh Greenie. Titter titter.

So my Orchid was a Pyramidal then. I'll cross Fragrant off my list.:-(

Phil and Mandy said...

Some fantastic photos there Greenie, I do love the snake photos.