Sunday, 14 August 2011

Sunday 14th. August 2011

After an early visit to the local tip followed by helping a friend with a job , I headed off up on the Downs to see if I could find any evidence of breeding amongst the Adder population , now that the females should have given birth to their live youngsters by now . It wasn't long before I found my first Adder , a male , curled up on the side of an ant hill . He saw/scented me first though , and before I could lift the camera , he was off into the vegetation behind . Being in no rush , I sat down and waited , and after a few minutes , he slowly made his way back . Once he had settled , I slowly made my way without disturbing him again . Some 10/15 minutes later , I came across a refugia , and on top were two male and one female Adder , but before I could get a shot off , the Grass Snake that was already on the move , disappeared into the vegetation on the right . The female is front left , with the two males to the back . Another female , a very striking specimen , was found further on , and not to be outdone , a striking male posed for a portrait .In all , 11 Adders , but not a single new born were found , along with 3 Grass Snakes , 7 Slow Worms , and this Common Lizard , which seems to have made it's home in a joint in a kissing gate . The same kissing gate provided a close up of this Robber Fly of the Asilidae family , a nasty piece of business if ever there was one . It catches it's prey with those long legs , injects a concoction into it , which starts to break down the tissues , them sucks up it's meal like having a milk shake . Still plenty of colour around , and just starting to add to it are the Autumn Gentians / Gentianella amarella . They will soon be joined by swathes of similarly coloured Devilsbit Scabious / Succisa pratensis , a member of the Teasel family . Most are still in tight bud form as above , but , in a couple of sheltered corners , I found a few specimens that had already flowered . As normal , I did a butterfly count on the way round , and was well pleased with the final total of 12 species recorded on the day . The most numerous species were Meadow Brown , and with one more counted , Chalkhill Blue . Once again , Brown Argus showed very well with 36 recorded . I thought I was going to get a shot of a mating pair when these two were found , but obviously the male , behind , was doing something wrong , as the female suddenly flew off , leaving the male looking somewhat lost . Only 6 Speckled Woods recorded , but this one was getting stuck into Autumn's harvest , feeding on ripe Bramble fruit . Almost at the end of the visit , I turned over a piece of wood , and found two of these beetles feeding on a dead Slow Worm . I remember finding one once before , but never managed a shot that time . I got a few this time , but once disturbed , all they wanted to do was to dig themselves into the ground to get away from my intrusion into their world . When I got home and searched on Google , I got very excited with a report of a rare beetle , looking very similar , being found after not being seen for 50 years . But , it was not to be , as that one lived in Fens and ate water snails , but it was a relation . From what I can make out , it is a ground beetle , Panagaeus bipustalatus , without a common name . From what I have read , it is normally nocturnal , so I was lucky finding these two during the day . The rare relation has the grand name P. crux major , the crux for the black cross on it's markings , and the major for being larger .
Very quiet for bird today , with the only unusual event being a skein of Geese , flying over noisily. I estimated 50ish at the time , and when I enlarged the shot on the computer , they turned out to be 48 Greylags .

5 comments:

Mel Lloyd said...

What a fabulous autumnal post :-) Devil's bit is always a delightful plant to see - such a rich purple flower head. Great to see adders, which I don't get to see round here. Gorgeous photos. Thanks. Mel

Warren Baker said...

Nice snakey post Greenie :-) Had a few flutters myself today, and some of those Greylags :-)

Rob said...

Very interesting variety of stuff here Greenie, and great photos too - love that Gentians shot.
But if I was ever thinking of having a milk shake you've put me right off the idea.

Alan Pavey said...

That was a really good day for the Adders Greenie, great shots of them too. Your guestimate for the geese was very good, I always find I under estimate numbers in flocks!

Greg said...

Sorry to correct you again Greenie but your beetle is one of the Burying/Sexton beetles, Nicrophorus species (can't quite tell which one from the photo, but either N. vespilloides or N. interruptus.