Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Adding Up and Keeping Count!

Recently I’ve been reading a book by Rodger McPhail called ‘The Private Life Of Adders’. To be honest it doesn’t take long to read but for someone like me that doesn’t know a lot about the life history of adders it is full of very useful information and a good introduction and I would recommend it as it is also full of great and surprising photos. One aspect of adder watching is trying to work out just how many individual adders you might be looking at and a study in the Wyre Forest in Worcestershire showed that adders posses unique head-patterns that can be broken down into 3 components. Eye lines, inverted V and the apex of the zig-zag.
So far I have made 3 trips to the adder site and I think I’ve seen 7 different male adders, which if true is the most I’ve ever seen in one area and quite exciting and the females aren’t even out yet!
The challenge is to try and get a photo of the back of the head which is easier said than done given that your average adder doesn’t want to be noticed let alone photographed and bits of grass and bees get in the way but that is all part of the challenge.
What do you think, there are certainly 4 different males below but do you reckon there are 7 different males here? Answers on a postcard.
March 18th.
Male 1 
Male 2 
This one will be easy to identify as long as the spring flower bee stays put!
Male 3 
Male 412_03_18_mh_016_male_1
March 8th
Male 5
26th February
Male 612_02_26_mh_056_male_5
Male 7

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Tree Bee

For the past couple of weeks I have been setting my 40W actinic light trap on a Friday night as part of the garden moth scheme. It is a constant effort moth trapping survey to determine moth population trends for the commoner species. Well my tally so far is a total of 4 moths and 2 species with Friday nights new species being a chestnut and a worn individual at that.
A beautiful warm and sunny day today, the local 7-spot ladybirds were catching a few rays as they started to emerge from their overnight roosts, if you can call them that?
There are 11 in the picture above and nearby there were another 15. So far I haven’t seen a single harlequin ladybird in the garden, which I think is good.
Bumblebees were also very much in evidence today with queen buff-tailed bumblebees visiting the flowering hellebores. Then Lisa pointed out a bee that had landed on an ornamental butterfly and luckily I managed to get a shot.
This is Bombus hypnorum or the tree bee. First recorded in the UK in Hampshire in  2001, it has rapidly been spreading across the south and south east and even starting to spread north. In fact amongst our UK bumble bees it is bucking the trend in that it is increasing and expanding it’s range and becoming more common. This is a queen and mighty fine she is too and needless to say the first one I have recorded in Longfield.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Something New For The Area…

Well for me anyway. The day started well enough with an unexpected peregrine falcon flying over the garden whilst I was eating my breakfast. I then waited for the sun to break out and headed back up to the adder site in the hope of finding more adders this time in the company of Neil Tew.
Several blackthorns were in blossom but no accompanying butterflies in the sunshine.12_03_08_mabledon hospital_008_blackthorn
Oddly I also saw a peregrine here as well. I assume it was the same bird although there was a good two hours between the separate sightings.
We managed to see two males, one of which was in a different area than on the 26th Feb so a total of 3 males thus far.
Under one of the refugia we came across a pygmy shrew which was quickly scurried away and that brings me on to the fact that I'm now the Kent mammal recorder as part of the Kent Mammal Group. So if you are reading this post and record your mammal sightings in Kent please send them onto me. At the moment the Kent Mammal Group is planning to create a new mammal atlas so we need all the records we can of both live and dead, marine and terrestrial mammals to get as complete a picture on status as possible. You may be surprised to read that rabbit and rat records are amongst the fewest we have!!
This afternoon Neil showed me a pond nearby where toads have been occurring in good numbers and it was to good an opportunity to miss for a couple of photos. In fact these are the first toad photos I have ever had the opportunity to take and the first toads I have seen in the Longfield area.