Snakes in the snow?

Actually, unsurprisingly, no there wasn’t! Volunteers from Roydon Woods, Pamber Forest, Yately Common, Winnal Moors and Blashford Lakes Nature Reserves met at Blashford this afternoon for an introduction to a new county-wide OPAL funded reptile survey project. Having had the low down on key identification features the survey method and recording/reporting method was discussed and we headed out with felts to set up a few transects – in the snow. Hence the title – it did seem a bit incongruous setting up for a reptile survey in those conditions, but having said that had it been last weekend it would have seemed quite normal, and the warm weather then and at the start of the week did indeed bring out the first of the adders on at least one of the Trusts reserves (Pamber Forest), albeit briefly, so not as stupid as it may first appear! 

The reptile transects have been very deliberately sited discreetly as disturbance will affect both the reptiles themselves and skew the results, so please do not go looking for them and, if you do stumble across them, leave well alone and equally if you see visitors disturbing them feel free to discreetly request that they cease doing so and let a member of staff know. Even the volunteers carrying out the survey work will only be checking them once a month!  

It was a busy day again today (apologies for the paucity of blog updates over the last week, it has been a busy half-term holiday for us!). In the morning, before the training this afternoon, we had a family bird watching event and there was a steady flow of visitors passing through enjoying sights of all the usual Blashford favourites, including bittern, redpoll, brambling and siskin. As far as I know the green-winged teal has not been seen for a few days, but a drake ferruginous duck was back on Ivy Lake yesterday and was possibly also seen today. The black-necked grebes are still to be seen on Rockford Lake too.

The cold weather seems to be hitting the invertebrate feeding birds quite hard at the moment, and woodland birds like wren and blackbird are obsessively flicking through leaf litter looking for food and much less wary of people than normal. Hopefully a spell of warmer weather will kick in sooner rather than later and get the insects that they are looking for on the move again. This blackbird stood like a statue, presumably playing dead or working on the basis that if he didn’t move he wouldn’t be seen, just off the path up to the centre through the willow coppice, when the reptile survey volunteers walked past this afternoon:

Hungry blackbird

Hungry blackbird

And other than that I would just like to report that, despite the snow, the first tree bud’s are bursting, so along with the flowering wild daffodils and odd lesser celandine, courting grebes and drumming woodpeckers, spring does seem to be on the way:

Hawthorn in leaf

Hawthorn in leaf



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