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 .
1 day ago