Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sunday 20th. March 2011

With not getting out since last Monday , through working Tuesday to Thursday , then a day of rain Friday and hedgelaying yesterday , with the only interest being good numbers of Skylarks singing and displaying in the field beyond the hedge , I was looking forward to getting out today , but had to wait till after lunch before I managed it . After yesterday's perfect weather , the sun was shielded by milky cloud and there was a chill to the wind too , but I set off up onto the Downs to see what was about . Straight away obvious that the cooler conditions was reducing the number of reptile sightings , but there were a few around , just harder to find . Whilst looking for them , my attention was drawn to a couple of orange coloured insects that turned out to be mating . Their wing s were similar to Crane Flies , but the colour and very narrow abdomen behind the thorax , and the time of year ruled them out . I did some digging when I got home , and think they are of the Ichneumon family , Netelia testacea , but as usual , I stand to be corrected . Many thanks to Ken/Focusing on Wildlife for suggesting that the Ichneumon could be Ophion luteus , and I think he is spot on . Cheers Ken
After some time , I did find my first Adders of the day , but these two certainly didn't make it easy , tucked tightly into the grass , out of that chilly wind . With having ponies grazing on the site last year , their droppings have provided the perfect habitat for Stropharia semiglobata to emerge and spread their spores . Another first for the year , this time the first Slow Worm , a large male , found sunning himself alongside a brash pile . A bit later in the visit , I also found the first female of the year . Once again , Common Lizard was well represented , this one posing for the camera on one of the felt refugia . Very close by another couple of year firsts , in the shape of Cowslip ,
and the flower of one of the Strawberries , and given the timing , I would lean towards Barren Strawberry/Potentilla sterilis , a member of the Rose family . Both were found in a sheltered corner , which also produced several Buff Tailed Bumblebees , along with a few other species that were not prepared to be photographed for identification , but looked like members of the Mining family . It also produced my first Small Tortoiseshell sighting of the year , that passed me twice , at speed .
Birdwise , things were quiet , but I did see a pair of Sparrowhawks , before a Corvid chased off the smaller male , and an unidentified raptor , high against the milky sun , which seemed to have light patches on the underwing , but very long in the tail . I tried to get a record shot of it , but it disappeared behind trees , not to be seen again , as always seems to be the case .
I did find a few Adders that provided better shots than those tucked away in the grass , but nothing like the numbers I was hoping for after yesterday's fine weather .


Ken. said...

Hi Greenie.
Nice selection of photo's from your walk today. I looked up your insects and I too think they could be Ichneumon Flies as you do, but I think they might be Ophion Luteus. In my book the one's you mention have got black rear ends.Of course I may be wrong, I am not really up on insects. It will be intersting to find out what they are.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, looks like you had an interesting and varied walk, there have been a couple Red Kites roaming around, that's what I was looking for yesterday, one those ones that got away!!

ShySongbird said...

With all those lovely reptiles I think we must surely be into a new season now Greenie :)

Lovely to see the Cowslips already, the ones which grow in my grass (it would be too optimistic to call it a lawn!) are not evident yet.

I have seen bees and Ladybirds but no butterflies yet although my husband has seen Brimstones on two occasions recently while walking the dog during his lunch hour.

Greenie said...

Ken ,
I think you are spot on with your ID , and have amended the post .
Thanks very much Ken .