Friday, 15 June 2012

Friday 15th. June 2012

Following on yesterday's post , I arrived on the Greensand Ridge with cloud building , but still a reasonable temperature for reptiles . I turned all 18 pairs of refugia , finding 6 Slow Worms , 1 male Adder and 13 Grass Snakes . Amazingly , just one pair of refugia produced the male Adder and 6 of
the Grass Snakes . This was him , cosied up with a Grass Snake that has a very large swelling halfway down her length , I am not pointing the finger , but have sent the shot to the Sec.of Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group for his thoughts as to whether he thinks it is food or eggs . An unexpected surprise under another of the refugia , when several bees lifted up from beneath . Having
been stung a couple of years ago , I was pleased to see that this time it was a Bumble Bee's nest , formed in a mouse or voles ex home . I could see a bee at the entrance and what looked like cells too .
As I watched , a much larger bee emerged from within , presumably the Queen , time to put the lid down and leave them to it . On the way round , I must have passed under a Common Buzzard in a
tree on the edge of a field , but shortly afterwards the local Corvids found it , and drove it out of the area , unfortunately I only had the macro lens with me . Interspersed with the refugia , I checked on the 20 Dormouse boxes on the site , finding that 9 of them had been taken over by Tits , as is quite usual , but what wasn't usual was finding 4 of those nine nests with dead youngsters . Warren commented that he feared for fledgling birds the other day , and so it has proved , as all the birds were ready to fledge , 3 of the 4 being Great Tits . The wet , cold , lack of insects and caterpillars ,  all must have played a part in the sad findings . Just one Dormouse , in the same box as last month ,
was found , but this time he was in a fully torpid condition , and this within a couple of weeks of mid-summer . Since last month , he had made a nest in the box and , although cold to the feel , was alive , and hopefully , when this Summer warms up he will find a mate and breed . I would repeat that I have a license from Natural England to handle Dormice and all records are forwarded to the monitoring programme . It is against the law to disturb this species and to do so carries a hefty fine .
When I arrived home , Carol had a pile of shredding from her time in the garden , and when we took
the top off one of the compost bins , found this female Lesser Stag Beetle / Dorcus parallelopidedus inside . After taking a couple of shots on my hand , I thought I would get some more in more natural surrounding , so moved an old log and put her on it . I then spotted another beetle where I had moved
the log from , which turned out to be a male of the same species . I put him on the log too , and it wasn't long before things got steamy . That's the male on the left , with larger mandibles , and knobly bits on them both . Fortunately , the log had a hole in the top , into which they both disappeared , to do , whatever they were going to do . Later in the evening , Carol spotted something on the lawn at
the bottom of the garden . It turned out to be a young Fox , no doubt just woken up . This morning I took the non-shredable garden waste to the tip and on the way back had a quick look around South Norwood Country Park . The wind was very strong and the sky was threatening during the visit , but did find a few bits of interest , like a female Kestrel on the high fence of the football pitches , a
great place to spot movement in the long grass below , and whilst watching her , was serenaded by a
Wren on another fence post . On the way around , found yet another variation of the Harlequin
Ladybird , this one being H.axyridis conspicua , and showing nicely the brown legs , one of the identifying points of the Harlequin Ladybird , in it's many forms . I must admit , I was watching the sky a lot as the wind was bringing quick changes and at one point the sky became almost black in the distance , time to head back to the car . On the way , a Common Whitethroat , with food in it's bill ,
gave me a good scolding until I got well away from it . Close to where I had parked , I just had time for a last shot at one of the few colourful plants seen , Bistort / Polygonum bistorta , a
member of the Dock family . No sooner had the shutter clicked , then the first drops of rain fell . This afternoon we have had a few really heavy downpours , just glad I wasn't caught out in any of them .


Phil said...

It certainly must have been a bad time for fledglings and all sorts of other creatures Greenie. Thankfully my nest box produced 8 chicks, 7 of which fledged successfully.
Nice to see a Dormouse again.

ShySongbird said...

Always a fascinating read Greenie! Such a shame about the tit nests. Like Warren, with the conditions we have been experiencing I have been fearing such news for weeks now. It seems very sad that the parent birds go to so much trouble to produce and rear the chicks only for them to fail through no fault of their own.

On a happier note, you have some great photos here. I love the Dormouse and the Fox. Also the Wren and the Whitethroat.

You really set those beetles up ;-)

Warren Baker said...

A disastrous 'tit' year Greenie, and, I suspect for many other birds too :-(

Always good to see one of the dormice, they cheer things up a bit.

Keep up the great posts mate :-)