Snakes and Larder

To continue my reptilian theme from last week and following Jim’s observation from yesterday, I took the chance early onto get an image of the grass snake ‘basking’ on the log at the back of the pond.

Grass snake on log at back of centre pond

When I say basking it was hardly the sort of weather that you or I might consider suitable for just lying around, but then again we don’t need to soak up heat from our surroundings before we become active. All of which made me think about our insect life and its current non-appearance around the pond/reserve. They’re all here, I know, but just not very active so I thought I’d give the vegetation around the pond a good look over. No obvious flying insect were perched up, but evidence of their emergence in the form of several exuviae clinging to the stems of pond plants.

Skin (exuvia) from which an adult dragonfly has emerged.

Not the sharpest of images, but this was across on the far side of the pond,. It  illustrates a point about the life cycle of these wonderful insects.  Many of us are familiar with the ‘typical’  insect life cycle of say butterflies in which they have the stages egg , caterpillar( lava ), chrysalis ( pupa) and finally adult (imago).  Dragonflies and damselflies, have dispensed with – or never had – the pupal stage. During the totally aquatic life of the lava as they get bigger they moult their skin in stages ( called instars),  finally they leave the water and attach themselves to some vegetation, where after a  while the skin splits down the back and the fully formed adult emerges, leaving behind the exuvia.

At last I’ve managed to get a picture of one of our rodent ‘invaders’ to the centre. This little fella has probably spent most of the night in our bated humane mouse trap ( under a sort of ‘mouse arrest’ ), before I let him go at some distance from the reserve – (they ‘home’ you know!!).

Englebert Humpamouse – “Please release me – let me go”

After releasing mousey I had a look through the moth trap. No particularly unusual specimens, but it’s sometimes refreshing to see species whose names are stunningly obvious.  As the strapline goes in that well-known advertisement ‘ it does what it says on the tin’, so this fairly common Treble Lines fits the bill.

Treble Lines

And just for a change I thought I’d include another obviously named species, but concentrating on the feature which gives it its name and which may confer protection from predators by mimicking a fierce face. The name Eyed Hawkmoth says it all.

Eye can see you!! – Eyed Hawkmoth

Whilst topping up the bird’s seed feeder I was aware of a large number of (at least six and maybe more) grey squirrels taking advantage of the spilt seed provided by our less than carefully feeding birds – Oh, they really know how to spread it around!!. The squirrels seemed to be picking up seeds and scuttling off then returning in short order. It was as though that when they found something  they were  running off to eat  in private, but thinking on it’s probably getting on for that time when they will be ‘squirreling away’  food for storage to see them through the winter. Hence my title for this piece!!!

I’ll leave with an image I quite like of squirrels around the feeder in what looks like a rodent version of  a maypole dance.

‘Five man Morris’ – squirrel style


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