Monday, 13 March 2017

spring distraction, Hazleton Common

Today's weather forecast was more than promising; sunshine / partially cloudy with temperature up to 13oC, light winds albeit NW so would feel a little cooler.

A visit to Hazleton Common between 10:30 and 13:15 produced some rewarding spring encounters, including three adder (Vipera berus) , and singles of common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) and grass snake (Natrix natrix) all seen basking. The former included a pair of "black adder" entwined, and then shortly afterward basking in proximity.


The grass snake did not wait around to be photographed. However, whilst skulking in the hope of the beast re-emerging from the bracken, I noted a common lizard and a dark-bordered (dark-edged) bee fly (Bombylius major).

common lizard
dark edged bee fly

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) and peacock (Aglais io) butterflies were on the wing - the peacocks already territorial, I witnessed a couple of dog fights, and got buzzed several times by at least two of them. There were a number of different bees on the wing too, at best my ID ran to white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) and a possibly quite early? red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius).


Whilst the A3M dominated the soundscape, chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) and dunnock (Prunella modularis) tried their best to sing above it.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

my first adder (Vipera berus L.) sighting of the year

Despite an unpromising weather forecast, I took a quick trip to Hazleton Common, hoping to catch a reptile or two to kick start my year list. Arrived 11:00ish and scouted around the northern part of the common which felt too wet and cold underfoot to be viable for sightings. On the more heathy southern end the higher ground was dryer, but still cold, with an unexpectedly biting wind under passing cloud cover.

I was just about to leave, when the sun broke through to clear sky, the wind dropped and the temperature improved by all of a whole two degrees perhaps? I waited for about 5 mins in the sunshine then returned to an area, which had been productive on past visits. I was chuffed to get onto a single male adder basking in the open, in close proximity to an artificial refugia. A couple of hasty shots with the "long Tom" for the record, and I left it alone. Lunch beckoned. Heading slowly off site, I failed to connect with any other individuals.