19 hours ago
Saturday, 2 April 2011
With cloud and possible showers forecast for the afternoon , I got out early to do the Down House bird survey . Arriving to clear blue sky , albeit still very blustery , it was a pleasure to be out , and the birds backed that up , providing song all the way around the site . I was a bit disappointed failing to record a summer migrant species , but 23 was a better than average species count for the site , shame the only Yellowhammer that was heard , was singing from the hedge on the other side of the lane that borders the site . Nothing special in the 23 , but as usual , the loudest prize went to the Rose Ringed Parakeets . The Sandwalk woodland provided interest , with the first Toothwort/Lathraea squamaria of the year , a member of the Broomrape family . Like all members of that family , it is parasitic on other plants/trees , and contain no green pigment . Much of the woodland floor was covered with the leaves of Bluebells , but only two plants had flower stalks , and just this one with an open flower . In a sunny , sheltered corner of the cricket field , I found a Common Wasp queen warming up . Close by were two trees of the same family , Maple , but with different flowering patterns . The Sycamore/Acer pseudoplatanus , having already come into leaf , now producing it's flowers which hang down , whereas the Norway Maple/A.platanoides , having flowered first with upright flowers , is now coming into leaf . Just 5 butterflies were recorded on the visit , a single Peacock and 4 Brimstone , all males . Having finished the survey , and just a thin veil of cloud overhead , I decided on a quick look up on the Greensand Ridge before heading home , and was rewarded with two female Adders , one of which shown here . The females are generally beige/brown coloured , and the zigzag darker marking is not so defined as on the males . Also spotted amongst the Gorse was a rather 'out in the open' Long Tailed Tit nest . I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for this pair . Back home for lunch , Carol had spotted a pair of Common Green Shieldbugs/Palomena prasina , doing what pairs do at this time of year . And finally , thank you to Wonderwings Wanderings for pointing out that I should have explained better on my last post that the Ramshorn Snails are a native species but are also bred by aquarium shops to sell to people with tanks/ponds . The large population that appeared in Spring Park Pond , were 'introduced' along with several Goldfish a couple of years ago , someone having probably thinned out the numbers in their own pond . And in answer to Phil's comment , the pond is fenced with post and rail and stockproof fencing to keep dogs and children out , it has notices asking the public not to 'introduce' anything , even sticks into the pond , but still they do . One year I just missed a chap tipping a bucketful of spawn into it , and when I asked if he had read the notice on the gate , he said 'Yes , but I didn't want to take the spawn back home again ' !