A Close Encounter of the Adder Kind

Two days together as I was too late last night to blog. Wednesday saw the last of my “Get to Know Invertebrates” courses on what was not a very good day for looking for the target groups which were dragonflies, damselflies and grasshoppers and crickets. Despite the less that ideal weather we did find quite a few species. To find dragonflies we resorted to looking for larvae in the Centre pond, we found a large emperor larva, several small hawker larvae, probably southern hawkers and 2 downy emerald larvae, or at least that is what we decided they were anyway, which I had not seen in this pond before.

emperor dragonfly larva

The downy emerald larvae have unusually long antennae for larvae and rather long spidery legs. I had always associated them with larger ponds and lakes surrounded by trees, but the two we caught seemed to be doing well in the little Centre pond.

downy emerald larva

We saw only two adult dragonflies one of which we could not identify on the distant brief views we had, the other was a fresh black-tailed skimmer that we found in the meadow.

black-tailed skimmer

Damselflies were found resting in the rushes but we were luckier with the grasshoppers, it was warm enough for them to be active and we found good numbers of mottled, meadow and field grasshoppers as well a nymphs of speckled bush-cricket and long-winged conehead.

Today was Volunteer Thursday, so despite the similarly iffy forecast, I was pretty confident about the weather and so it proved, although there was one very, very brief shower. We were clearing ragwort (again), but have now all but cleared the eastern shore of Ibsley Water apart from the area with the lapwing chick(s). I started by collecting up some of the heaps from the last two weeks and luckily was paying attentions and did not just grab the pile with the adder sitting on it!


It was sitting in the shelter of the heap so as to be out of the wind and in the sun whenever it came out, obviously it was a good spot as there are several flies perched on the snake , including one on top of her head. It is a female and although mature, not yet fully grown. I also saw at least 3 grass snakes today, including 2 from the Ivy South hide.

The moth trap was a bit disappointing this morning with fewer moths than yesterday. In the bottom of the trap was the evidence of bird activity with the remains of a broad bordered yellow underwing, the colour is very intense and much darker than the large yellow underwing.

broad bordered yellow underwing remains

Closing up at the end of the day I made another record count of mute swan for Ivy Lake, they are now up to at least 65 and I think probably 68.

Some of the 65 (or was it 68?)

I also saw the recently hatched common tern chicks today, this last pair is so far behind the others that I think within a week they will be along as all the rest will have flown. From the Tern hide I saw a fledged redshank chick, possibly the one from the western shore of the lake that I last saw about ten days ago.

In the end it was a much better day than yesterday and especially so for butterflies, I saw meadow brown, gatekeeper, marbled white, large white, small white, red admiral, comma and several small skippers.

small skipper male






2 thoughts on “A Close Encounter of the Adder Kind

  1. Have been following your blog from Hong Kong, Australia and then the U.S.A.-is this a record?!-

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