Archive for the 'Reptiles and Amphibians' Category

28th June 2012, Thursday

The creature from the pit

A couple of winters ago a small willow dominated pit had its cover of trees removed and the vegetation is still in transition.  A range of ruderal species grow on what was once shaded bare ground around the pit whilst the open water, lacking in aquatic flowering plants, is dominated by filamentous algae, with unicellular algae colouring the water.

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Over time of course the vegetation will settle down and become dominated by the species associated with unshaded wetlands, with seeds lying dormant in the seed bank in the silt at the bottom of the pond providing some of the likely successful species.

The aquatic fauna seems to be on the way to establishing itself too. Peering into the turbid water to see if I could spot one of the medicinal leeches I noticed a few weeks back, subtle movements drew attention to

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1st June 2012, Friday

Ex slow-worm

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This carrion crow was seen eating this writhing slow-worm, usually a favourite for kestrels!

1st April 2012, Sunday

Grass snake

grass snake
I spotted this grass snake on the beach reserve at the Winchelsea Beach end. It was soaking up the sun and did not look to be fully grown, but is the first snake of any description that I have seen on the reserve in 12 years of coming down there, it was spotted on the 28 March at about 10.30am. From Paul Dyke by e-mail.

28th January 2012, Saturday

Brede High Woods Adder

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Today a small group of Woodland Trust volunteers headed to Brede High Wood’s Holman Meadow. The task was to clear out the invading birch scrub. It was hard work but we all felt very rewarded when we took time to stand back and admire our efforts.
As we were heading back for some warm drinks, (provided by Mike) I spotted an adder on the side of the path. Yes that’s right an adder. Yes in January. I know. Amazing. I don’t believe we had disturbed it. It was away from where we had been working and it had already been around long enough to have fed. A bump can clearly be seen in the snake, perhaps the size on a small rodent.
If you look closely at the picture you may be able to see the snakes tongue tasting the air.
It is also in a position that it takes before it strikes. A good time to use the zoom on the camera I thought. I wonder if this may be the first record for an adder in the UK this year.
If you would like to get involved please contact Mike Jackson at swbjackson@talktalk.net Read the rest of this entry »

30th November 2011, Wednesday

First amphibian arrival

The annual ritual of spotting the first newt returning to our pond for the breeding season was a little later than average this year.  The first amphibian, a smooth newt, came in with the heavy rain last night and has a somewhat unusually shallow pond this autumn.  Dry weather has meant that there are still only a few centimetres of water in the bottom of the pond and dry ground has probably limited the opportunities for newts to migrate back.

13th September 2011, Tuesday

Newts

The standard way to find newts at this time of year is to turn over a piece of wood or a stone to see if animals are sheltering underneath.  This short log was productive, sheltering 6 smooth newts and one great crested newt this week, near the Cladium Pit.

Newts under log

The great crested newt is the large black amphibian – note the characteristic yellow rings on the digits and the greater size of this species. The smooth newts Read the rest of this entry »

31st May 2011, Tuesday

Hunting Grass Snake?

I visit the pond in Red Barn Field Sedlescombe most days. Today this Grass Snake was seen swimming in circles at the surface. It then dived vertically & using its tail as a counter balance at the surface, moved its head back & forth over the pond floor. It then came to the surface near some water crowfoot , and stayed with it’s head out of the water. An approaching palmate newt below the surface caused it to move its head in the direction of the newt. It didn’t attack the newt though, and very soon sped off across the pond-perhaps it sensed my presence. Colin Boyd by email

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Taking a breather after the dive

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2nd May 2011, Monday

Two hybrid newts at Staplehurst

I have found a second smooth x palmate newt hybrid in the same pond at Staplehurst, distinguished by its pattern of belly spots, which can be used in the same way as a human finger print to distinguish between individual amphibians.  This animal had more strongly developed webs on the hind foot – more obviously midway between the fully developed black webs of the palmate, and the toe-fringes of the smooth newt.  The tail was similar to the last specimen, with a filament, and the same general palmate colour pattern, apart from the orange base to the tail, while the spotted belly and white throat and upper body colouration were typical smooth newt.  The dorsal crest was low and resembled a palmate newt.

Smooth newt x palmate newt hybrid showing foot webbing

Of twelve newts found at the site Read the rest of this entry »

27th April 2011, Wednesday

Another smooth x palmate newt hybrid

I reported finding one of these last year at Northiam.  Here is another likely specimen, found at Staplehurst, so rather pushing the RX area boundary a bit, but there is potential to find more of these hybrids I suspect.

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 In this animal there is a tail filament Read the rest of this entry »

7th April 2011, Thursday

Castle Water

Last year I spent a day clearing the small pond at the entrance to the hide which had became clogged and overgrown with vegetation. At the time I remember thinking what species of dragon and damseflies could possible have been attracted to the pond in its present state, so I was delighted this morning to find two teneral Large Red Damselfly and several exuviae. I hope now that the cleared pond will encourage a larger population of Large Red Damselfly to establish, and Hairy Hawker which had bred at the pond several years ago. Also of interest today at Castle Water, five of the Big 6 bumblebee species terrestris, lapidarius, lucorum, hortorum and pascuorum. Hoverflies on the wing included Meliscaeva auricolis and Eupeodes luniger, a basking Grass Snake was also a nice find.

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Teneral Large Red Damselfly at Castle Water hide pond this moring.