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 .
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