Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunday 27th. March 2011

Another 'not too hot' day today , so after lunch , I decided to have another look at the site on the Greensand Ridge where the Rhododendron had been removed over the Winter . I must admit , my first thought was 'lunar landscape' again , but it's done now , so we must get on with it . I lifted the first pair of refugia and found nothing beneath , not unexpected , as the site is near one of the highest points in the South East of England , and temperatures , especially nightime , are lower there . As I walked to the second pair , I met the other surveyor who monitors the site , and he was just finishing his visit . He had found a single Adder and a small Grass Snake , and after a chat , he made his way and I decided just to have a casual look around . No sign of the Adder that he had found , but did find the small Grass Snake and on the way back to the path , found a much larger specimen , motionless amongst the Bluebells . Speaking of which , further on , I found my first flower spike , in a position that seems to provide the first most years . Then , further on again , on the edge of one of the large fire sites that was used to burn the Rhododendron , Bluebells in full flower . Not many butterflies seen on site , but did record 2 Comma , pictured , 2 Brimstone and 2 Peacock . So far it had been a pleasant walk in favourable conditions , with the odd spot of interest . Arriving at a set of refugia , in a glade that we cut 2/3 years ago , there was nothing under the felt or tin , but rustling noises coming from the brash pile , the material cleared from the glade , just below where I was standing . I thought at first it might have been a Pheasant or even a Deer behind the pile , but soon realised that they would have moved off on hearing me crunching my way on the dried out Sweet Chestnut leaves that litter the glade . I moved closer and then realised that the noise was coming from the brash pile itself , well animals moving in the pile . Then , from out of the middle of the pile came 3 Grass Snakes , writhing and entangling their bodies , and not just the 3 , at least another 3 were moving around in the brash pile too . I think that there was at least one female amongst them , and the males were wanting to do what male Grass Snakes do at this time of year . I sat myself down on a stump and watched the show going on some 5 metres away from me . Eventually , one of the animals got scent of me , and came over to investigate , looking me straight in the eye as can be seen from this shot . Things did quieten down after that , but looking back , I had got over 50 shots of the proceedings , finishing up with this specimen looking tired out on the top of the pile . I left them to sleep it off and headed back to the car , finding on my way , possibly two , or the same one twice , Orange Underwing moth . I attempted to get a shot both times , but as the camera focused , the moth flew off . Finally , a moth that my Warden found last night in his house and asked if I could identify it , which I can't , but I know a man who probably can .


Warren Baker said...

That snake adventure was just awsome Greenie. One of those things you just come across if you're out often enough.

ShySongbird said...

I looked through my book and thought the moth might be a Spring Usher but looking at images on the web I think probably not. Interesting to get Dean's verdict.

That was a great snake encounter Greenie, you must have been enthralled. Great photo of the one looking you in the eye ;)

Phil said...

What a great post and equally great shots. Most people, including myself, could only dream of such an encounter. I'm starting to think of you as a sort of English snake charmer Greenie.....can you play the flute?
Sorry, i'm talking a load of Cobra's again!

John Young said...

Hi Greenie, the moth looks like an oak beauty and what a cracker. Its on the wing from Feb-Apr. John

Anonymous said...

Greenie, definitely an Oak Beauty.

Greenie said...

ShySongbird ,
Thank you for your time and effort with the moth ID .

John/Dean ,
Thank you each for the ID .
I had 'Beauty' going around in my head , as I believe many of those such named have that camouflaged pattern .

ShySongbird said...

I had a feeling I should have just left the moth ID to the experts Greenie ;) I looked at the Oak Beauty and dismissed it as the photo looked much more like the Spring Usher photo in my Collins Guide than their photo of the Oak Beauty.

I forgot to say yesterday how lovely it was to see the Bluebells in flower, they are definitely earlier there than they are here!

Paul said...

Hi Greenie, what a great experience to see all those Grass Snakes at the one time, thanks for sharing that with us mate.