Thursday, 14 April 2011

Thursday 14th. April 2011

I was full of good intentions to sort and process pictures taken over the last week or so when I woke up to dull , grey sky and a cool breeze . Those intentions lasted until , just about 10 o'clock , the merest glimmer of sun through what must have been thinning cloud , was enough to leave the computer and head for the Greensand Ridge . Regular readers can probably guess the next bit , as by the time I arrived , the sun was gone , and being higher , the temperature was lower too . I decided on a look around as I had made the journey , and was pleased to have donned a fleece before leaving . Which is probably what this Red-tailed Bumblebee was looking for , in the hope of getting warm enough to get airborne . I didn't expect to find many reptiles in the conditions , and was surprised to have a male Adder , in breeding colours , cross the track in front of me , obviously 'on a mission' from the speed he was moving at . I must have followed him for 3/4 minutes , during which time , he didn't seem to take any notice of my presence . Eventually , he slowed down , giving me the chance to get in front , and as I did so , I encountered another two males , one also in breeding colours and the other getting that way . My thoughts jumped to 'surely , not the Dance of the Adders again this year' ? But when the original male arrived , that's him coming in from the top left hand corner , the other two hardly gave him a second glance , and he settled himself down with the other two , all friendly . Deflated , I left the three of them , and only finding a Slow Worm amongst some Bramble , headed back home . On the way , I did stop at the Common , which was also quiet . But , on the edge of the heathland area , somewhere amongst the leggy Gorse , a continuous call and reply , got me wondering what species was making the call . It sounded almost Tree Sparrow like , which would have been a great record for the site , but the birds remained well under cover . After about 20 minutes , a fleeting glimpse at distance , revealed what I thought at the time looked like a Chiffchaff , but the calls were not of that species . About 10 minutes later , another clearer glimpse , still looking very Chiffchaff like . When I got home and blew up the shot , some of the mystery was solved , a Willow Warbler from the long eye stripe . But whilst on site , it never sang it's descending scale , and never sounded like either what it was or a Chiffchaff . Only other interest found , the Ash has finally burst bud , possibly the last species to do so . Finally , hopefully clearing up a couple of queries from Monday up on the Downs . Dean/DDD mentioned that he thought the 'Pyrausta sized' moth probably was of that species , and with a bit more digging , I have come up with Pyrausta despicata/Straw-barred Pearl , a moth found on chalky/limstone habitat . And the Bee that we watched carrying lengths of material to it's nest , I think is Osmia bicolor , one of the Mining Bees , and again a downland species . If you Google the species and click images , on page 19 , the second shot shows the Bee in a similar pose . Needless to say , I stand to be corrected .


Warren Baker said...

Ive noticed the Chiffchaffs making a hard, and short call this spring Greenie, not one i'm used to hearing ?

ShySongbird said...

Isn't it strange how our best intentions go out of the window when a glimmer of sun appears? :)

Well Greenie, you are definitely a snake magnet, from your description it sounded rather like a case of the Pied Piper of Hamelin!

Glad you seemed to have solved your mysteries.

I have heard people talking about Whiffwaffs when they can't decide between Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, perhaps you really have one, complete with its own unique call! ;)

Phil said...

Sorry you didn't get a dance today Greenie, but it sounds like that male Adder lead you a merry one.
Well done with your ID of the nest building Bee. Bet you haven't been called a 'snake magnet' too often.....or have you?!!

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, Like Warren I've heard the Chiffchaffs making calls more reminiscent of the the autumn than spring and also had a Willow Warbler making high pitched call that recalled Wood Warbler in tone and contained several notes, which I hadn't heard before. I definitely need to meet up with you if I want to see my first Adder :-)