Saturday, 9 April 2011

Saturday 9th.April 2011

Didn't expect to post today , as it was a clear up morning and end of season meal early afternoon , for the Surrey Hedgelaying Group . Everything got done earlier than expected in the morning , so whilst the others chatted and got ready to go to the pub for the meal , I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a short visit to a heathland site , where in the past I have found both Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake , especially as it was just 15 minutes away . I only put my old camera in the car at the last minute , but it proved to be a good idea . Along the lanes , several Orange Tips were seen , and when I pulled over to see if I could get a shot , which I didn't manage , not surprising the 20C.ish temperature at the time , I found the bigger cousin of the Lesser Celandine that has been in flower for several weeks now . The Lesser is a member of the Buttercup family , but the Greater Calandine/Chelidonium majus , is a member of the Poppy family . Crossing a small stream , I spotted a Grey Wagtail which flew off , but when I stopped , I found a pair further down the stream . On reaching the heathland site , a steep slope , covered with Bilberry/Vaccinium myrtillus a member of the Heath family , with fruits already formed , had to be climbed before reaching the open area . By this time I was sweating as the open area was sheltered from the breeze . Whilst looking around , I cooled a bit watching a male and female Brimstone perform a courting dance for several minutes in front of me , only for the female to fly off , not interested . Good numbers of insects about , but with limited time just got a few shots of one of the many Green Tiger Beetles/ Cicindela campestris , a fast flying, fast running predator . With my time on site quickly running out , I finally found the third snake native to the UK , and by far the rarest of the three , the Smooth Snake . Like the Adder , it has markings all along it's back , but not continuous , and not venomous either . On my way back to the car , I disturbed a small flock of birds at a puddle , mostly Chaffinches , but there was definitely 2 possibly 3 Brambling amongst them , but I didn't have the time to stay and see if they returned . Leaving the site , I made for the pub , the others already well settled in , and made it with 10 minutes to spare before the meal was served .


Phil said...

I really like Green Tiger Beetles Greenie but I don't see them very often. As for the Smooth Snake, I don't see them ever! Much better than pub grub i'd say.

ShySongbird said...

You were well rewarded for making the most of your opportunity Greenie. Well done on finding the Smooth Snake!

Nice to see the Greater Celandine too.

Thank you for the reply on the last post, I had done a search on your blog and couldn't find any mention of Fritillaries so thought they were probably not seen in Kent. It seemed likely that if they were you would have found them by now :)