Reptiles Rule & Reptile Rules

The adders have continued to be very obliging and have been showing well all week, even in the cold weather and the grass snakes which were seen for the first time only a few days ago are also beginning to be readily and easily seen, including this one which was basking in the usual favourite place by the pond this morning:

Grass snake enjoying the morning sun

Grass snake enjoying the morning sun

We also had a great reptile encounter earlier in the week when I was demonstrating a map reading activity to a small group of student teachers. The activity itself involves locating a large plastic “bug” by virtue of the location of its identical counterpart which is placed in the appropriate place on the map. When one of the teachers found a grass snake coiled up in a tussock just off the edge of the track he fortunately did check before picking it up as he was reasonably convinced it was fake like the toy bugs we were looking for!

For all that there are a few people who have either a genetic or, more likely(!), a learned aversion to reptiles, most people who visit the nature reserve love to see snakes, whether they be the adders or the grass snakes. For those few readers of this blog who would rather not encounter them, be warned that they are now very much a part of your Blashford Lakes experience and for everyone else who, like us, enjoy their beauty for what it is, please respect this very simple reptile rule:

THE REPTILE RULE: LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH!

I hope this is self-explanatory and for the vast majority of visitors I am sure that it is. However ever so often I have encountered visitors handling (and to be honest, very badly mishandling) snakes which really winds me up. Sometimes it is photographers who either don’t know any better, or who don’t seem to care, sometimes it is visitors showing off to demonstrate some kind of perceived machismo. Sometimes it’s both, but whatever the reason it is uncalled for and unnecessary.

Although I have not seen anything myself yet this year I was saddened to hear that a couple new to the reserve, visiting from elsewhere on holiday and who had been delighted to hear that they stood a good chance of seeing adders on their visit, were later seen picking them up. Now on the one hand they at least did seem to have some knowledge of how to hold the animals without seriously harming them, unlike most who I have encountered doing this, but it does not get around the fact that they were handling them and that these snakes will now be much more wary of people and that therefore they are far less likely to sit on the edge of the footpaths and allow visitors to enjoy them in the future. Please do not pick up the snakes, grass snakes or adders. If you don’t know how to handle them properly you may very badly injure them and even if you don’t as I say, this very selfish act may spoil other people’s chance of seeing them.

Here endeth the sermon.

It was a beautiful day today with butterflies (… and hoverflies, bumblebee’s and, less welcome(!), biting insects) all on the wing. I did run the light trap and had 1 oak beauty, 11 common quaker, 7 Hebrew character, 7 small quaker, 7 clouded drab and 2 twin spot quakers to show for it. Sadly there were also a pile of wings so it seems that the wren, robin, blue tit and / or great tits have all found their favourite moth bite snack bar a little earlier than normal this year:

Remains of the day...

Remains of the day…

The trap wasn’t very well packed out with egg boxes last night so I’ll run it again tonight with more boxes in to a) decrease the space available for a small bird and b)increase the hiding places for any insects trapped, but if we have the same result I’m afraid we’ll have to stop running the trap again for a little while.

 

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3 thoughts on “Reptiles Rule & Reptile Rules

  1. Well said about the handling of reptiles – it winds me up too and its completely unnecessary mindless disturbance and comes I think from sensationalist TV programmes that show people doing just that rather than just observing and learning. I greatly admire Chris Packham but he has been guilty of this too. Regarding the moth trap – you will always retain more moths (and keep them safer) the more egg trays that you put in the trap. The best way to pack a Robinson trap is to cut the large 6 x 5 egg trays in half and then lay three around the base of the trap keeping the centre clear. Then put the next layer on top of those but half overlapping. Continue to the top until you can just get the perspex cover and the lamp funnel on sitting flat. Keep the centre space free so that moths entering drop down the middle and settle on the egg trays at the sides. Remember that the number of moths retained in a moth trap is directly related to the number of egg trays stacked within it! To avoid problems with wasps and hornets later in the season the best method is to use a timer timed to come on a little after dark. If you still get problems just move the on-time back a bit. Missing a few that fly at dusk is better than having just lots of wings left in the morning.

    • Thanks for the support Tim – and also the light trap advice. As you say, improved egg box packing does seem to have improved our catch and a good tip for the wasps and hornets too, which have caused us a bit of a problem in some years. We already use a timer but will certainly try knocking it back a bit when appropriate and see if that helps as well as your experience suggests tit will!

      • No problem and good to meet you briefly on Monday morning. The micro on the outside of the trap was Ypsolopha mucronella, and we also saw two of the longhorn moth Adela cuprella flying above the large flowering sallow by the path near IvyNorth hide which I think will be new for the reserve. I’ll check later, but it’s worth looking out for – easy to spot with binoculars.

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