Archive for the 'Reptiles and Amphibians' Category

28th March 2011, Monday

A discreet way to sun-bathe

The past few warm days have seen reptiles emerging in our Northiam garden.  Three slow-worms were basking today.


I have left a Read the rest of this entry »

21st March 2011, Monday

Castle Water

A few weeks ago I mentioned that willow flowers would provide an early source of food (pollen and nectar) for early flies and bumblebees, today at Castle Water I found several Common Bee-fly using this food source. Other highlights included Bittern in flight, 2 Marsh Harrier and a Grass Snake.


Common Bee-fly feeding at willow flower

Read the rest of this entry »

8th March 2011, Tuesday

Rye Harbour

Highlights from a frosty dawn visit to Castle Water included 2 Bittern in flight, 37 Little Egret left the roost (main pit this time), at least 4 Cetti’s Warbler were calling from various spots and a Dartford Warbler gave brief views in the gorse and bramble scrub near the hide, a Common Lizard and Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) were also there yesterday. Obviously Mediterranean Gulls are popping up everywhere even at 5.30am at Castle Water, but Ternery Pool is still the best bet around mid morning. Waders feeding along the shore have included 115 Knot, 35 Grey Plover and a measly 6 Dunlin. Elsewhere on the Beach Reserve Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Oystercatcher can be found displaying during spells of fine weather.


10th February 2011, Thursday


Another mild wet night and common toads Bufo bufo are on the move here in Northiam, with six corpses found this evening on Dixter Lane.


This is typical of the fate of many migrating amphibians on our busy roads at this time of year, but it is not the only problem this species faces.  Read the rest of this entry »

8th February 2011, Tuesday

New Year newts

I recorded my first two great crested newts of the year on Walland Marsh last night.  It is the first time I have checked the site this winter so I don’t know when they arrived in the water, but friends who regularly monitor their own garden ponds, in Brighton and near Alton reported the first specimens turning up in their ponds last weekend, which in the case of the Brighton pond is the latest first arrival for this species in 20 years of regular monitoring.

 Meanwhile in Northiam I recorded my first common frog of the year last Saturday, again a relatively late first sighting

12th January 2011, Wednesday

Amphibians on the move again

After the excitement of finding the first smooth newt in my pond on 14th November the past two months have been very dull with no amphibians spotted since, until tonight. I saw one male smooth newt that had been in the water for some time as it had a low crest, with a second male that had obviously just reached the pond.  I say this because the skin was covered in a silvery sheen of tiny air-bubbles – something you see when newts return to the water after a long spell on land.  By 10pm two more male smooth newts were present, both recently arrived at the pond, and just after midnight the first male palmate newt of the year was found.

I had a suspicion this might happen this afternoon.  It was 7° C at 4pm, and conditions were very wet, conditions that are likely to trigger amphibian activity at this time of year.

27th November 2010, Saturday

Amphibians and dry ditches

Continuing the theme of the results of the 2009 drought on ditch flora and fauna at East Guldeford I surveyed the ditches for amphibians in March.  By far the most abundant species was the marsh frog Pelophylax ridibundus which was present in all the ditches in good numbers.  This is far and away the most aquatic of the Marsh amphibians and will have evaded the worst effects of the drought, and the little egrets and grey herons, by hiding in damp crevices and hollows in the bottom of the ditches.  Although not of any conservation significance (because it is an introduced species) it does act as as a prey species for the medicinal leech that abound in these ditches.

Great crested newt egg on water-speedwell leaf

I would not say that newts abounded in the ditches.  There were Read the rest of this entry »

14th November 2010, Sunday

Amphibian breeding season

The first male smooth newt of the breeding season is back in our Northiam garden pond.  These animals will be taking advantage of the mild wet weather at the moment.

12th November 2010, Friday

A spring day in November

Orange Peel fungus
A walk in the woods this morning in the Beckley area revealed some surprises. A slow-worm crawling across the path, dog violet, primrose and bugle in flower. There were a number of fungi around including two areas where I found Orange Peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia). I don’t think it needs much explanation for its common name.

9th August 2010, Monday

Slow-worm birthday

I turned over a piece of felt in Northiam today and found a female slow-worm in the process of giving birth. The young of this reptile are born full formed within an egg membrane.  Shortly after this photograph was taken the newly born animal straightened itself and burst through the membrane, ready to start life in the garden.

New-born slow-worm within egg membrane