A visit to South Yorkshire!

On Friday I went over to visit Carl in South Yorkshire with the aim of combining herping with some birding. In fact birds turned out to be the highlight of the visit rather than amphibians and reptiles. In the late afternoon we visited a cathedral where a pair of Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) reside, they were both present and we even saw them mating, as well as the male bringing back a killed Starling. After this nice stop Carl took me to an area where he had recently seen a Little owl (Athene noctua), the owl was there again and by slowly pulling up the car alongside we were able to watch and photograph it. After dark it was time for some herps, although the first thing we saw was a Badger (Meles meles) running along the side of the country road. We wanting to inspect some man made ponds on agricultural land, and the first one delivered around half a dozen Smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris), on the way to a second pond we crossed paths with several Common toads (Bufo bufo) and at the pond itself we saw a single male Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus). At a third pond we came across about 20 dead Common frogs (Rana temporaria) which probably died from a sudden frost as the area we were was quite high and cool.  Thankfully some frogs were alive as well as some toads, two Great crested and a few Smooth newts.

Mating Peregrines (C) Matt Wilson

Male Peregrine with kill (C) Matt Wilson

Male Peregrine with killed Starling (C) Matt Wilson

Little owl (Athene noctua) (C) Matt Wilson

Little owl (Athene noctua) (C) Matt Wilson

Curlew (C) Matt Wilson

Common toad (Bufo bufo) (C) Matt Wilson

Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) as seen 'in situ' (C) Matt Wilson

Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) as seen 'in situ' (C) Matt Wilson

Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) (C) Matt Wilson

The next day it was foggy until around 12pm, first we visited a potential new Adder site, no snakes but we found a single male Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara). After this we visited a Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) site and under some pieces of tin we found a male and a female specimen, this was the earliest Carl had seen them in his area. With the weather improving we dedicated some hours to searching for Grass snakes (Natrix natrix) without any success, but in doing saw we crossed paths with some Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and a few Buzzards (Buteo buteo).

Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara) (C) Matt Wilson

Red grouse (Lagopus lagopus) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson

Adders slowly adding up..

After another full day in the field with mixed weather I found the same five male adders (Vipera berus) as in the previous post. But in the end I managed to find a sixth specimen, a beautiful large male which turned out to be a completely new specimen to me. It was found in an area where I found a cast skin last summer, but had never seen a snake there. Great! In a nearby woodland several Tawny owls (Strix aluco) were calling during the daytime, and I saw numerous Ravens (Corvus corax) however sadly I couldn’t get a second look at the Goshawk (Accipter gentilis) I saw a few weeks ago soaring over the area. I also disturbed several Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) as I was walking through the vegetation.

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

A new Adder (Vipera berus) for me! (C) Matt Wilson

A small, ever present male Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

 

 

By Matt Wilson

A first real spring day

Today with the sun out and an elevated temperature of around 12C, I ventured back to my most local Adder site. After spending the entire day from 8 30am to 5pm at this fragmented population I was somewhat disappointed to only find 5 male specimens, however on the bright side 2 of these were new specimens to me. In such perfect weather, clear skies and no wind I really hoped I would find more, but unfortunately this population is highly fragmented and I wish I could do more to help keep the population going in an area of the UK where Adders have almost completely disappeared because of people. In addition Common frogs (Rana temporaria) were breeding in shallow water sources around the site, and I saw a male Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus) and a Kestrel (Falco tinnuculus).

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Two Male adders basking on top of one another

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Male adder (Vipera berus)

Common frogs (Rana temporaria)

Young Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

By Matt Wilson