Sunday, 29 March 2009

Queendown Warren

Back to Queendown again but the morning was much colder and far less sunny than I expected. Still I managed to find one adder in the overcast conditions and once the sun finally emerged a total of 3 males and a single female. Many bumble bees and bee-flies and having read Steve's New Hythe blog I was on the lookout for dotted bee-fly and without too much difficulty I was surprised to find one. Albeit the only one I saw amongst the more common Bombylius major.
Dotted Bee-fly

The adders definitely appeared not to like the cold and this small male whilst trying to gather the most of the mornings heat looked decidedly chilly to me as it tightly rapped its coils together. The blue cast over the eye is a sign that it will soon shed its skin, called sloughing, normally the eyes are a lovely red in colour.

I believe that their normally excellent eyesight is diminished during this process and you'll be pleased to know that it remained in this exact location both before, during and after the shots were taken. Plenty of gulls around as well including a couple of adult Med gulls.

Is it me or are the carpets of wood anemones not quite as good this year?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Queendown Warren

I like adders (I might have mentioned this before) and although I have been working too much in March it was good to be able to get out on a couple of sunny weekends to Queendown to try and find and observe some emerging males and eventually a couple of females.

At Queendown, the KWT have been tasked with identifying exactly how many adders are there and this means identifying and keeping tabs on individuals. I think this will be no mean feat as it is hard enough to tell male from female let alone try to identify individuals throughout the year. It seems that the trick is to concentrate on the head patterns and I've supplied head images of the 2 females and 4 males that I have been lucky enough to see on my two visits this year. Males emerge first and then generally lay around and await the emergence of the females. My visit on the 7th March yielded 4 males of which 2 were together.
Adder males

I just love the contrast of the black zigzag against the pale body colour and it promises to just get better as the spring progresses and they start to shed their skin. You tend to know when this is about to happen as their eyes turn blue.

On my recent trip on March 21st I managed to find 2 females basking in the sunshine. Normally the female zigzag is browner in colour although I'm sure more knowledgeable folks out there will tell me it is not as straight forward as that.
Adder female

Can't wait to get back there when I can.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Longfield - Moths

Decided to have a go with my MV trap last night for a few hours and was surprised to get 5 moths of 3 species, two of which were new.
Totals for the 4 hours of trapping were 3 common quaker, 1 small quaker and a yellow horned, so called because of the colour of its antennae.
It's amazing to think that these moths start to emerge from February onwards, how well adapted to the cold unpredictable early spring weather they must be.

Yellow Horned

Small Quaker

Common Quaker

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Strand

I thought I might have missed the chance to see a waxwing this winter but a flock of 15 had been located at The Strand in Gillingham. There have been a few photos and blog entries by others regarding several groups of these wonderful birds that have been seen throughout the country. For me they will always have an affectionate reputation of being the hungriest of birds. Flocks just descend into shrubs and trees and devour any and all berries, the birds having bottomless pits of stomachs, gorging themselves on the fruit. It is always a wonder to watch especially when they start calling as well. They make the most wonderful trilling sound which just sends a shiver down my spine whenever I hear it.

I didn't notice that this bird had been ringed until I looked at the photo.