Saturday, 7 May 2011

Saturday 7th.May 2011

After the overnight rain , and more this morning , the air felt fresher though still humid , but enough to tempt me back to the Greensand Ridge , in search of reptiles . The results of visits to many sites recently has been very poor , so I was hoping that the change in the weather would be reflected in what was found . I'm very glad to say that today's findings were the best since before the hot spell of weather started . Four male Adders , two still in their non breeding colours , and two more in those breeding colours were found . Three females , including two very large specimens were also found , together with a female , probably in her 3rd.year .

Finding the seven animals was obviously very good news , but it leaves the question , what has this period of unusually hot weather done to the breeding of these animals . On a 'normal' year , their progress can be followed through courting , combat between males and eventually , mating . But this year , it is difficult to predict where exactly in that cycle the animals are , albeit that combat was seen during the week before Easter , but very little else . I suppose that mating could be forgotten about this year , who knows ? As female Adders only mate every other year , how will that affect mating next year ? All questions that can only be answered in the Autumn , when any juveniles are found , and in the years to come . The rain , and that forecast for tonight , hopefully will alleviate problems with the dryness of the habitat , and with it , the continual fear of fires , like those unfortunately sparked off in other parts of the UK .

After lunch , I spent some time wandering around up on the Common , the temperature having crept up to a humid 24C. Whilst looking for Brimstone caterpillars on the Buckthorn , I had another opportunity to get a better shot of the Red Tipped Flower Beetle . It wasn't too long before munched Buckthorn leaves revealed the culprit , now more marked , the Brimstone caterpillar , but again , the long hot spell has damaged the young shoots of Buckthorn , the ones that the females like to lay their eggs on . Even robust species like Gorse and young Oak have suffered badly from the lack of water . Once again I was frustrated by a pair of Brimstones . I watched as the male tried to ground the female to mate with her , but , no matter what he did , the female would not let him couple , keeping her abdomen raised . Three times he managed to ground her , and each time she resisted him , until he flew off . After that third refusal , and with the coast clear , she showed why she was not interested , returning to a young Buckthorn plant to lay the eggs that she had already . Whilst writing this , it has struck me that I don't think I have ever seen a shot of mating Brimstones , so that could explain the amount of time I have spent trying to get one .

Unfortunately , the Long Tailed Tit nest has been predated , most probably by a Magpie that is seen regularly in the area . Such a shame for this beautiful work of art . The same happened last year some 20 mtrs. away from this year's nest . Whilst walking around , I did see a pair of Long Tailed Tits , and they flew into Gorse on the other side of the site . Are they the pair that were predated , and will they try again ?


ShySongbird said...

What a shame about the LTTs nest Greenie! I believe they have a particularly high percentage of predated nests which is sad considering the amount of work they put into building such creations.

So glad you had better luck with the reptiles today. It will be interesting to see how they are affected by the weather.

Warren Baker said...

LT Tits just have one nesting attempt in general Greenie. Failed pairs sometimes go on help feed other broods. I recently read only 17% of LTT nest survive to produce young!

Phil said...

Nice to read of your success with the Adders at last Greenie, although as you say lots of questions remain unanswered for the time being.
Always sad to hear of predated nests, especially when it's a single brooding species.

Paul said...

Hi Greenie, glad you had some luck with the adders, i also saw 3 females and a male today too.
You raise some very interesting questions about this years adder activities, as you know ive witnessed mating this april, and im sure other pairs have also mated in the area. One point i would make is, I think my area is ahead of the season climate wise, because another area i visit seems to be behind in Adder activities. This other area is not so well placed for direct sunlight/high temps. therefore it seems 2 to 3 weeks behind, so could the adder activities in cooler areas, still go ahead with courtship this year, but just at a later date perhaps?