Thursday, 25 March 2010

Thursday 25th.March 2010

Once again , I am indebted to my neighbour for the loan of his laptop , to enable me to do a catch up post , but once again , without the ability to 'crop' the pictures , but , hopefully by Monday , things will be back to normal .
Last Monday , with the promise of some good weather , I headed for Ashdown Forest in good conditions . As I approached the Reserve , in rolled the clouds , out went the sun ,and , up got the wind , and with a Southerly wind , and nothing to stop it after the South Downs , I was starting to realise that looking for migrants was not a good idea . Apart from Corvids and Chaffinches , I was almost half way around the reserve before I found any interest , a pair of
Stonechats . The male was in superb breeding colours , and pursuing the female all over the place , then having to see off a rival male , trying to muscle in . Whilst following the Stonechats , something made me look skywards , to reveal a Common Buzzard , drifting on the wind , searching the open areas . Two juvenile female Fallow Deer , and that was the lot , most disappointing . On the way back , I stopped off at a road junction that always has a good show of Early Purple Orchids , and , although the plants are not yet in flower , the leaves are pushing
through well , and the first Orchids will not be far behind . Before reaching home , I made my first visit of the year to the Farm Lake , which looked very bare with all the reeds and sedge brown , waiting for this year's growth to begin . A Grey Heron flew off from the bank as I approached the lake , and it was soon seen why he was there . The water was almost seething with frogs , singly and in pairs spawning , easy pickings for the Heron . This particular corner of
the lake is always favoured by frogs , and with so much spawn in the shallows , it looks as if the banks will be alive with froglets again this year . Walking on around the bank , at least half of it
is covered with the early flowering Coltsfoot . Later in the year , when the flowers have finished , the leaves will appear , joining the Ragged Robin and Cowslips , when they come into flower . More croaking from amongst the left overs of last years reeds , produced what could only be described as 'a ball of Toads' . Somewhere in the middle of this is a female that has come to the water to breed . As she did so , she was set upon by several males , all wanting to
be the one to mate with her . With none willing to give in , the ball gets bigger , and sometimes , the female drowns by being kept under the surface by so many males . No sign of any Toadspawn yet , but it usually is a couple of weeks later than the Frogs .
A quick look up on the Downs yesterday , produced my first female Adder of the year , and not surprising , given an afternoon temperature of 16C . As can be seen , the zig-zag pattern is not
so vivid as on the male , and they are usually this light/dark brown coloration . The hole into the heather roots , is probably the entrance to where she hibernated .
And finally , a male Adder , with a spider , that I watched walk all over it , and having just walked off the Adder's head , vanished into the vegetation .


Orchids and Nature said...

No signs as yet of any Early Purple Orchid leaves up here in Lancashire, but they should be showing soon, they generally flower in early May.

Phil said...

Nice post again Greenie. That Stonechat looks stunning even from a distance and how brave is that spider!?

Warren Baker said...

As Phil said Greenie, that stonechat looks stunning, even without cropping the photo.

I'd rather have the snake on me than the spider - I hate spiders!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
That Stonechat is exactly how you described it on the phone, when we spoke. It is a great looking male. If you do get around to trimming/cropping it it will look even better. I am like Warren, I am terrified of spider's. That doesn't mean I would get too near the Adder.
Look forward to reading your regular blogs again.