Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wednesday 29th.July 2009

I wasn't sure if any wildlife would be found today , but when we went to look at a hedge that we intend to lay this Winter , things began to look better , as it was near a lake , and close to some Reptile refugia . Around the lake , growing alongside the Water Mint , was yet another member of the Labiate family , Gipsywort , a super little plant , with white flowers , spotted purple , in tight whorls at the base of the upper leaves . The square stem , of all members of this family can be seen in the photo . Not far away , I found an umbelifer , a member of the Carrot family , Angelica . A movement over on the far bank caught my eye , and it turned out to be a pair of Black Swans , looking as if they hadn't woken up properly yet . Just before reaching the hedge , we had to pass two pairs of refugia , but before reaching the first , I noticed a female Adder , laying out on the grass , a good 3/4 metres from any cover . She was not only big in length , 60/70 cms. was my estimate , but also big in girth , arousing my suspicions that she was carrying young . Unlike the Grass and Smooth Snake , which both lay eggs , the female Adder retains her eggs within her body , and when the time comes , gives birth to live young . Adders mate April/May , and the females give birth around August , and juveniles start being found shortly afterwards . I cannot be certain that she was carrying young but is my best guess , but when she moved off , the motion was very laboured . Another female was found sunning herself on the first felt refugia , but moved off quickly before I could get a shot . Under the same felt when lifted , was an immature Grass Snake . When ready , it took off at a rate of knots .
The second pair of refugia produced a male Adder under the corrugated tin , and another immature Grass Snake under the felt , but he was off almost immediately . Having checked the hedge , we moved off onto another site to replace some way markers . Very dull after the first site , but I did find the front half of a Grass Snake slough , the discarded skin . When these are found , they are in varying states of damage , dependant on how active the snake is as it tries to snare the slough on vegetation , then wriggle out of it . This particular one was very intact around the head , and the eyes , the mouth and the scale pattern can be clearly seen . It can be identified as a Grass Snake by the lack of the zig-zag pattern of the Adder .
Whist walking along rides , several Southern Hawker dragonflies were seen , hawking for insects in the sunshine , then heading for somewhere to shelter , when the sun disappeared . This immature male chose a spot on a Bracken covered bank , that I nearly broke my neck climbing . Fortunately , the sun didn't re-appear before I got my shots , I would have been well sick if it had , and he continued hawking .
Only other thing of interest was this moth , found in the middle of the track , so after photographing , I moved it into vegetation on the side . I think I have seen it before , but cannot ID it , but I know a man who might , Dean .


Anonymous said...

Gipsywort is a new one on me, Greenie - I'll have to look out for that around here. Very interesting info on the snakes. The Grass Snake slough is remarkable - looks like a bit of cloisonne work.

Anonymous said...

"The man" would say Light Emerald, Greenie.

ShySongbird said...

Like Rob I was fascinated by the Grass Snake slough, amazing!

Warren Baker said...

Careful there greenie, we wouldn't want to see you hurt yourself. :-)