Thursday, 2 May 2013

Thursday 2nd. May 2013

With some more good weather promised , I set off early for the Greensand Ridge , arriving on site at 0745 , with frost still on the ground . I worked out a circuit , and decided to keep doing laps to see when animals came out to warm up , and the walking would keep me warmer too . Nothing seen on
the first lap and just one 'silverback' male seen on the second , half an hour later . Males change to this 'silverback' colouration when a female who is ready to mate , just every other year , is scented in the area . On my third lap he was still there and a second animal found some distance away , which to
me was a definite male too , with zig-zag markings as black as the 'silverback' . On my fourth lap , just after 0900 , the 'silverback' had already retreated into shade behind his original position . when I got back to the brown and black 'male' , I found it cosied up with a smaller 'silverback' and things were getting even hotter than the sunshine . The 'silverback' was doing a lot of tongue flicking and moving over the other animal , then both disappeared out of view . I continued the lap , finding a few more animals , including a couple more 'silverbacks' . When I got back on lap 5 to where the pair had disappeared from previously , they had reappeared , and it was obvious that mating was just beginning . The reproductive organs of snakes are found towards the end of the tail , and the two
were writhing about , trying to couple , which they did . There followed a weird performance that I can only describe as a carousel ride with both animals swirling around whilst united . Trouble was , with the female being the larger of the two , she dictated the momentum , and soon the male couldn't keep up with her . Soon , still coupled , she was doing the carousel thing frontwards , and the male was being dragged around , backwards . Funny to see him pass tail first , and finishing up with his head , but probably not for him . The time spent there on this lap was about 50 minutes and in total from when I first saw the pair was 1 hour fifteen minutes . I should imagine the male was quite relieved when they uncoupled , he shot off like a rocket , she curled up deep in the vegetation . As the day continued to warm up , no more new animals were found and those that were out warming up , headed for the shade and out of sight . Whilst on site , I also found three sloughs , the cast off skins of
 the animals . With things gone quiet , I headed home for some lunch .
After which I headed up onto the Common , to see if I could manage what I failed to do yesterday , photograph a Brimstone laying an egg . On the way I looked in on the juvenile Common Buzzard , and it was sunning itself on it's favoured post , thinking aloud , it will soon be it's first birthday .
Several Brimstones were found on the Common , but all males , charging around . I sat on a log in an area of Buckthorn , hoping for a female to arrive . One didn't , but a flash of blue produced my first

Holly Blue of the year , a male , identified by the small amount of dark markings on the forewings .
With no sign of any female Brimstones , I moved to another area of Buckthorn , and after a few minutes one obliged , but would insist on laying behind leaves and twigs . Eventually an opportunity
presented itself . After laying several more eggs , she flew down to the ground to rest , only to be
found by a male , with a single agenda on it's mind . He forced her down to the ground , but with her abdomen held high , there was no way that he was going to be able to enforce his agenda .  He
wouldn't take no for an answer though , as he chased her again into a spiralling flight high over the trees . No sign of the 2/3 Common Buzzards seen recently , but a single Kestrel and two Sparrowhawks were seen hunting .


Warren Baker said...

Nice piece of work with the snakes Greenie ;-)

ive no chance of photographing a brimstone, let alone one egglaying.

I'll get very few of the smaller flutters here, now the habitat in the 'old tree nursery' has gone :-(

Marianne said...

Wow, what a wonderful thing to witness :) Great to see a Holly Blue joining the butterfly list too.

Rodney Compton said...

Hello all - no speckled woods in my area! Bromley Common, Hayes Farm - any views please.

ShySongbird said...

A fascinating account of the snake encounter Greenie. I couldn't help giggling at your great description of the out of kilter carousel ride :-) Lovely to see the Holly Blue too.