Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tuesday 8th. March 2011

With volunteering cancelled today , I had a chance to catch up with some chores at home , before the second day of sunshine got the better of me , and I set off for the Greensand Ridge to see if I could do better there than up on the Downs yesterday .
I went to a small area of heathland , some distance from the area where the Rhododendron had been removed . The breeze was a bit warmer today , but with reptiles you just don't know .
It was about the same time as I was looking yesterday , and after a few minutes , found my first 'doughnut' of the year , a smart male Adder .
The second sighting had me wondering whether I was looking at a single animal or two . There appeared to be two colour shades , but the light can do that sometimes . I took a shot , still not sure one way or another . It was only when I processed the picture at home that I could just make out the second head , right of centre at about 3 o'clock , just right of the greenery coming from 5 o'clock . The first head being at 10/11 o'clock . This might be cosy now , but when the mating season starts , they will definitely not laying together . The third sighting was much easier , with just the one animal , stretched out to get maximum warmth from the sun . All the animals were males , as on average the males emerge 2/3 weeks before the females .
On the way home , I stopped off at the Common thinking there might be the odd Brimstone , Peacock or Red Admiral about , but found none . I did however find some nice specimens of the Lichen Cladonia cristatella , common names include Devil's Matches and British Soldiers , the latter presumably referring to the 'Redcoats' .
Before leaving , I checked on the Purple Hairstreak eggs on an Oak in one of the clearings , and was alarmed to find a small hole in every egg seen . I'm not sure yet , but it looks as if something has eaten into or been injected into each of them . A bit of research will be need on this one .


Paul said...

Hi Greenie, some very nice Adder shots there mate. I had my 1st Adder sightings/photos on the 25th Feb this year. I have also seen/photographed 3 Common Lizards too. Cheers Paul.

ShySongbird said...

The year really must be moving on if Greenie is showing Adders, excellent! :)

That is worrying about the Purple Hairstreak eggs. I found this information.

'It may seem surprising that something as small as a butterfly egg has its own parasitoids, but these cause high losses. The main parasitoids are wasps in the families Scelionidae and Trichogrammidae - as many as 60 of these microscopic wasps can emerge from a single butterfly egg !'

Hope that helps a little.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, I didn't realise Adders were out this early in the year,it's nice to keep learning about when things are around. I've never seen one despite searching on numerous trips to the heaths in Suffolk and elsewhere! I like the photos to.

Warren Baker said...

Nice snakey photo's Greenie :-) I see your researcher has come up with the goods about the PH eggs ! Well done Songbird :-)

Greenie said...

ShySongbird ,
Thanks very much for your input re. the butterfly eggs .
I have been digging , when I have spare time , but have not been able to find anything specific to Purple Hairstreak egg predation .
We know that all butterfly are predated at either egg , larvae or adult form by other insects , birds , spiders and others , the classic case being the crash every few years of the Holly Blue .
I shall keep digging , but with hindsight , this could be the cause of the dramatic fall in PH numbers in the 'Ash clearing' up on the Common over last Summer .
Thanks again for your help .