Friday, 4 April 2014

Friday 4th. April 2014

Have spent the week mainly painting the outside of the house , but , every now and again , getting away to do a quick visit .
Just such a time , was the bird survey at Down House , which produced a better than average 24 species , with the only possible migrant being a single singing Chiffchaff in the Sandwalk Woods . The most pleasing find was a pair of Pied Wagtails , busily removing any insects that could trouble the batsman or bowler on the cricket square . They usually breed around the pavilion , but I failed to record them at all last year , so good to see a pair back . Also in the Sandwalk Woods , lots of
Toothwort / Lathraea squamaria , a parasitic plant on the roots of it's host , seemingly , like many plants this year , earlier than usual . On the way home , a stop on the Common , found a female
Brimstone , along with several males . She later landed on a Buckthorn bush and appear to lay an egg , but on searching , she was just kidding .
In good conditions , a couple of trips up onto the Greensand Ridge , found Adder numbers rising slowly , with good numbers of females emerging , and yet another juvenile , born last Autumn being
found . I was determined to finish the painting today , and got started in cool , grey conditions . So it stayed for the morning , but towards lunchtime , a few sunny spells opened up . They got the brush working quicker , and soon it was done , my gear grabbed , and off to the Greensand Ridge . As I arrived , the cloud could be seen rolling in , but it was still pleasantly warm . I made my way straight to the area where the male guarding the female were found , but just before that spot , was halted in my tracks by two male Adders in combat , and for once , not amongst the leggy Heather . I got myself sorted and started shooting , the pair taking no notice of me at all , just 4 metres away . One was the freshly sloughed large animal photographed with the large female on my last post , the other , the first non-white and black animal that I have seen in combat . I don't know how long the combat had been going on , but it was relentless , with each trying to dominate the other and keeping them subdued . 36 minutes later , with 590 shots taken , the black and white animal saw off it's opponent , but looked totally drained from it's efforts . I haven't even looked at all the shots yet , but here are a few of them , hopefully to give a feeling of the encounter .
Getting towards the end of the combat , I noticed the tail end of the brown / black animal was turning
white / black , as the effort was removing his slough , and showing his breeding colours .

This was within a split second of the end , with the white / black animal dominant and keeping the
other down . With that , the brown / black animal slithered off , pursued by the victor , but he quickly
gave up , and last I saw , he was resting up under some Heather . 36 minutes had passed by like 5 , as

I had a look around for the female , which had to be around . Sure enough she was , looking as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth .
This is now the 8th. time I have been privileged to witness the ' Dance of the Adders ' and was by far the best yet , being more in the open , and making it easier for the camera to focus . I look forward to the 9th.
Some may say it's just male testosterone , but when I got home I looked back at some of the shots
taken on previous visits , and found this one of the brown / black animal , snugged up with the female . The white / black animal was photographed in the almost identical pose on my last post !!
Sunday's weather looks wet , a chance to process the rest of the shots .


Phil said...

Fantastic post Greenie. Not sure how number nine could beat that!
My only question is........would butter EVER melt in an Adders mouth?

Wilma said...

What a wonderful series of adder shots, Greenie. Must have been something to see first-hand (or is that "first-eye"?).

Warren Baker said...

Brilliant Adder encounter Greenie, that's what getting out in the countryside is all about :-)

Marianne said...

Reading back over posts I've missed and so glad I found this one - amazing shots and documentation.