Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tuesday 20th.April 2010

Busy day today , with the first Dormouse and Reptile survey of the year , up on the Greensand Ridge . In all , 70 Dormouse boxes were checked , and 28 of them contained complete Blue or Great Tit nests . At least another 10/15 had nesting materials in them . We usually find young on the first survey , but this time we only found 6 eggs , showing how far things are behind this year . This particular one , apart from the usual material , had white Badger hair included . We don't always find Dormice in the boxes this early , and let the Tits get their use out of the boxes , before the Dormice start breeding . We did however find this Yellow Necked Mouse , with an extremely long tail , living in one of the boxes , he was evicted to find other accommodation , and no way could it be described as torpid . In the damper part of the woods , an unusual plant , Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage was in flower , but we did not find a single specimen of Scarlet Elf Cup , a fungi which usually thrives on this site . Unexpectedly , we did find a torpid male Dormouse in a box , he probably woke out of hibernation on a warm day , then found refuge in the box when it got cooler . He hadn't even made an attempt at a nest , as he was found him curled up on the bottom of the wooden box , with nothing else inside , but he seemed well and weighed in at 14gms., not a bad weight coming out of hibernation . Soon after returning him to his box , we put up a Common Buzzard , which must have been roosting in a large Oak , which flew off over the farmland and shortly afterwards , we heard it calling . We checked the refugia at the top of the site , but only found one Common Lizard on top of the felt , and 2 Slow Worms under other felts . The site opposite the Warden's house only produced a single Slow Worm , but we did see , but couldn't get a shot of , a Green Tiger Beetle in flight , my first of the year . Another first for my year , was a pristine Speckled Wood , that definitely didn't want to be photographed .

The last site had 20 Boxes and refugia , but there was to be no more excitement from the boxes , it all came from the refugia and brash piles around them . This was one of two Grass Snakes found under felts , this one thinking that if he couldn't see us , we couldn't see him . The big excitement came about a quarter of the way round , when we found this male Adder , basking on the brash pile behind the refugia . As we got closer , he didn't seem bothered at all with our presence , but he kept moving out of sight under the brash and returning . The strange thing was that he didn't have the smooth movement of a snake , and was very twitchy in his movement . Anyway , he had been out of sight for a while , so I moved forward to see if I could see him , and found him curled up with a female . Once again taking no notice of us , he prosceed to mate with the female . Whilst they were mating , at least one , possibly two males , as both sightings were singles , came into the area , probably attracted by the pheromones given off by the female , but neither attempted to interrupt the mating pair . We left them to their business , and a bit further on found a slough , the shed skin of an Adder , in amongst the Bracken , the zig-zag pattern easily recognisable . On the head of the slough , the eyes and mouth of the Adder were plain to see . Almost at the end of the survey , around a pond area , Marestail-Hippuris vulgaris was found , in it's early stages of growth .
Just one Dormouse and a few snakes , but a privilege to witness the mating of two beautiful animals .
Finally , a big thank you to Phil / Sharp By Nature , for identifying the Black Bumblebee that I posted last night , as a female Hairy Footed Flower Bee-Anthophora plumipes . Cheers Phil , that probably saved me hours , and still wouldn't have got it .


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Looks like you had a terrific day out, very eventful, you packed a lot into it. Some great photo's, although how could you evict a poor little mouse, it probably had it's eye on that box for a while, and then you come along. That mouse is probably homeless tonight ;-(
Well done with your first Speckled Wood of the year.

Anonymous said...

A grand day out and no mistake. Interesting stuff.

Stewart said...

Some nice things there Greenie, I've never seen a Dormouse or Yellow necked Mouse - too far north -and only one Grass Snake too...and that was at Minsmere...

Warren Baker said...

More great wildlife exploits Greenie, should be more to come as the weather is set fair for the weekend :-)