Our youngest did not let us get much sleep last night and I would quite happily have crawled back into bed rather than into work this morning, so I had every sympathy for the grass snake and the adder that looked as if they too were rather regretting leaving the warmth of whatever log pile or old rabbit hole they’d been sheltering in!
Although there was the odd break in the cloud and short spell of sunshine, it has generally been overcast and the wind, which had dropped away earlier in the week has picked up again and today had a real edge to it. Both the snakes were adjacent to, rather than under, felt or tin put out as part of the reserves reptile survey transects that a handful of our volunteers monitor and which will start in earnest again next month.
On that may we respectfully ask that you do not lift any of the tins or felts that you may come across out on the nature reserve. Most are fairly discrete but there are some that are more obvious from the paths and we know from experience that reptiles will not take advantage of any felts or tins that are disturbed regularly. “Old” visitors to the reserve may well remember the tins that used to be out on the edge of the path on the approach to Ivy North Hide. For several years before the reserve was officially opened to the public in 2006 I could guarantee to show any group at any time of day at least one grass snake from spring through to autumn. Our new visitors of course also sought to see grass snakes under these same tins and within less than two months the snakes had all but stopped using them. The same has been the case under the tin in our wildplay/bushcraft area. It used to be fairly discrete but as more visitors found it and disturbed it the snakes last year have stopped using that one too.
The reptile survey is a really useful tool for the reserves staff to monitor both the reptile population on the reserve as well as the impacts of any reserve management taking place. If we under-record reptiles simply because the reptiles have become wary of using the survey felts the surveys will tell us nothing!
A pair of bullfinch feeding on the willows at the start of the walk up to Lapwing Hide were nice to see. I actually saw at least 4 males and 3 females yesterday too (that time they were feeding on the cherry plum blossom on the Rockford Lake path) and they are generally “around” the reserve at the moment. As I say, always nice.
I was very pleasantly surprised by both the number and variety of birds on Ibsley Silt Pond this morning. Usually home to the odd grebe, coot or sandpiper but not a lot else, today there were about a dozen shoveler and at least the same again in gadwall, teal and little grebes.
Lapwing Hide proved disappointing with everything sheltering in the north west corner of the lake, but a detour to Goosander Hide was far more productive: