Easter field weekend

FRIDAY:

Rather than an in depth field report, I thought I would just post the photos from the Easter weekend, as hopefully, the photos will speak for themselves and save me the job of inventing an interesting report 😉 On Friday daytime we went onto the moors and saw some mating Adders (Vipera berus) followed by a nice male specimen and some Common lizards (Zootoca vivipara), including a first melanistic specimen. Myself and Carl are grateful to Alan Mosley who kindly allowed us to explore his property on Friday evening in search of Common midwife toads (Alytes obstretricans) as his village is one of three introduced populations in the UK. The little toads were calling like mad, and under some flag stones we could see many adults, including some carrying eggs but we were only able to reach two specimens for photos.

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Mating adders (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Melanistic Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) (C) Matt Wilson

Female Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) (C) Matt Wilson

Female Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) (C) Matt Wilson

Common midwife toads (Alytes obstretricans) (C) Matt Wilson

Common midwife toads (Alytes obstretricans) (C) Matt Wilson

Common midwife toads (Alytes obstretricans) (C) Matt Wilson

SATURDAY

We drove to East Yorkshire trying to find a spot for Marsh frogs (Pelophylax ridibundus) which didn’t really work out. Instead Carl threw himself into a muddy river and caught a beauty of a Grass snake (Natrix natrix), the largest I’ve ever seen in the UK. We also saw another one a little further down the river, but neither of us were eager to get waist deep in muddy water to retrieve it, as it was almost identical to the one Carl had just caught. In the evening we drove across to the west coast where we explored some sand dunes after dark and saw many breeding Natterjack toads (Bufo calamita), together with Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) and Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris).

Grass snake (Natrix natrix) (C) Matt Wilson

Grass snake (Natrix natrix) (C) Matt Wilson

Grass snake (Natrix natrix) (C) Matt Wilson

Grass snake (Natrix natrix) (C) Matt Wilson

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) (C) Matt Wilson

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) (C) Matt Wilson

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) (C) Matt Wilson

Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) (C) Matt Wilson

Amplexus of Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) (C) Matt Wilson

SUNDAY

Early in the morning we drove back to the coast and met up with Dave Hardaker and Liam Russell, who are both studying populations of Sand lizards (Lacerta agilis). Before it got too hot we searched around some coastal dunes and saw two juvenile and four adult male sand lizards. What little beauties they are!

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Species observed:

  • Common midwife toad (Alytes obstretricans) Around 10 seen, two photographed
  • Common frog (Rana temporaria) Common
  • Common toad (Bufo bufo) Common
  • Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) About 15
  • Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) 3 seen
  • Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) 2 seen
  • Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) Seen at most sites
  • Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) 4 adults, 2 juveniles
  • Grass snake (Natrix natrix) 1 juvenile, two adults
  • Adder (Vipera berus) 3 seen
By Matt Wilson

Easter weekend herping

Myself and Carl Corbidge have had a busy bank holiday weekend, herping all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the North of England. On Sunday we were pleased to finally meet fellow herpers Dave Hardaker and Liam Russell after email correspondence for some time so we could observe some Sand lizards together . Despite rather hot weather throughout, we managed to find 10 species of amphibian and reptile, a great number for the north of England! Until I can be bothered to write up a short field report here is a photo of beautiful, typical emerald green specimen of a male Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) from the north.

Male Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson

Adder update!

On Sunday I had another short search for Adders (Vipera berus), and again it was rather hot weather for April! Firstly, at the edge of a small stream a group of walkers were looking down into the water, when I went over I realized they were watching a large male adder swimming across the stream and it eventually ended up hiding inside the bordering stone wall. Minutes later I found a tiny, baby adder basking on a rock and after another short search I found a very active male climbing a hillside, it started hissing at me before I even approached it for photographs. I also came across a freshly shed skin of a smaller, male adder.

In addition, field colleague Carl Corbidge now has his own wildlife blog: Yorkshire field herping and wildlife photography

Baby adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Baby adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Baby adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Male adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Male adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Sloughed skin of adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Sloughed skin of adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson

Herping with the father!

On Sunday, I went out searching for Adders with my Dad, who has in the past seen many of Britain’s native reptile species in Dorset, when each spring we would travel down to the south coast and spend countless hours lifting tins looking for Smooth snakes and all the other species present there. Today, we visited a more local spot for Adders, the same spot  as I visited on Friday (see previous post). Again, it was very hot indeed for April (19C!), so on arriving at the spot all the adders had already reached optimum temperature and dispersed. When the weather is hot, snakes are hard to find in the UK as they only need to spend a short amount of time basking and then move off, usually undercover of bracken and in many cases in places not visible to the human eye. However, we searched the old stone wall where I had seen a large male on the previous day, my Dad soon shouted from the other side of the wall that there was a large adder, and by the time I clambered to the other side the snake had vanished down a hole. Too bad… After enjoying a short hike I decided to check back at the wall, as on the previous day I had seen the same adder three times out searching for prey or a mate. Much to my delight I saw a very large female Adder basking at the side of the stone wall. This was one of the largest adders I have ever seen, and the first female I have found at this location, generally speaking females are far less frequently seen than the males. Pleased with this find, we called it a day in the early afternoon, and hopefully the next time I go out looking for herps, the weather will be a bit cooler!

Large female Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Large female Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Large female Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Large female Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Large female Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Tadpoles of common frog (Rana temporaria)

By Matt Wilson

Sunbathing snakes

The hottest day of the year so far (17C), so I decided to check the Adder site not too far from where I live. Arriving at the spot around 11:30am, it was already quite warm, and for the first hour of searching I didn’t find a thing! To be honest, it was probably too hot for most adders, but after a little more searching I came across a male specimen moving over some dead bracken. After some photos I wasn’t expecting too much more as it was now 17C, but walking along a drystone I saw another larger male Adder moving along in search of prey. This was a nice observation as it was in a different spot to where I had found the other snakes at this site. After photographing this specimen I went searching for a further 10 minutes or so, and then on the way back, I saw the same adder climbing the drystone wall, inserting its head into the cracks in search of food.

Here are a few photos and videos from today:

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

 

By Matt Wilson

Amphibian army, and a goodbye to my most reliable travel companion!

Common toads (Bufo bufo) almost at the water (C) Matt Wilson

After 6 years of solid use from my regular Canon SLR camera, I finally decided it was time for an update. I felt quite sad having to ‘let go’ of my reliable, Japanese travel companion, and considering the amount of times I have smashed it onto a rock, had snakes wrap around the flash, not to mention defecate on the thing, its a miracle that the camera is still alive today! However, the old camera will still be coming along wherever I go, as a backup to my new Canon SLR, in case a reliable old timer is needed to do the job. As I was anxious to give the new camera a run out, I went back to the lodge close to my home where hundreds of Common toads (Bufo bufo) were breeding. Although it was daytime, large numbers were still migrating to the water, including several pairs already in amplexus. As I did a few nights ago, I moved all of them away from danger on the roads towards the lodge, although more would appear that needed assistance every time I tried to leave the area! On a walkers path, I found around another 30 individuals heading towards the lodge.

Common toads (Bufo bufo) (C) Matt Wilson

Common toads (Bufo bufo) (C) Matt Wilson

Common toads (Bufo bufo) (C) Matt Wilson

Common toads (Bufo bufo) (C) Matt Wilson

The habitat (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson