I set myself a bit of a challenge the other week – and at times I rather wished I hadn’t! I say I set myself the challenge, but in reality it was born out of a comment that I picked up on – ‘had anyone seen any baby (you’ll find out later!) yet this year??’ The answer came back as a bit of a silence. It seemed that nobody had yet – so I manfully stood up to the plate (my own plate of course) and took on the task.
Now, I’m not sure how long I can keep you guessing on this, as I haven’t really thought it through to a conclusion where I reveal if I did see it, and if I did, what it is.. My Twitter followers will probably know already – if they take any notice of my tweets that is. If you’re not a Twitter follower of mine and want to get ahead of the game for the next blog post, I’m there as @spuddrs.
I’m also trying to cut down on my waffling and use more images. So far, it’s been all waffle and no images, so not the best of starts I’d say… 🙂
Anyway, back to the challenge. It involves finding a baby something as you know, but that’s not much good without a picture as well – so off I went onto the heath, laden with camera during every spare hour of my leave (when I wasn’t painting walls, washing patios etc etc – which I did find rather satisfying I might add), and every lunchtime during my working days. So, time for some images of what I did see…
Firstly, I was (still am) amazed by the number of smooth snakes I found basking. I saw one in 2009 and two last year. Some of my colleagues tell me they have never seen one out basking in the open. So, you judge just how amazed I was when I tell you that I saw SEVEN in two days! Add another two that I saw on friday just gone – that’s 11 smooth snakes basking in about 10 days. I have a theory that they were mainly females about to give birth – certainly they were very large bodied, and the one that I did check was a heavily pregnant female. I left the others where they were as I doubt they would appreciate being disturbed if my theory is correct. One was a male, basking in preparation for sloughing his skin – his blue/milky eyes being a sure sign of that.
Plenty of butterflies, to be expected really. Graylings are a real tester. They fly around, usually landing on a path or bit of dead wood, immediately bring their wings together, shuffle around until they cast no shadow and often so that they are head on to you. I have only seen one image this year of a Grayling with it’s wings open. That’s a whole new challenge that I’m staying well away from!
Lots of dragonflies as well. Again, no surprise there. Finally, in addition to the earlier smooth snakes, plenty of reptiles -as expected.
On quite a few occasions I managed to hit the reptile jackpot so to speak, seeing all six species in one session. Lunchtime of Thursday 11th August was by far the best in that respect as I managed to tick off all six in 27 minutes!
Time to wrap up this post then, which I suppose has to involve me unveiling the prize I was after. Well, the baby is actually called a hatchling, is about an inch and a half or so in length, rarely stays still for longs and moves as fast as a rocket on full boosters!
I did succeed eventually. I saw a flash of movement in the heather, and waited to see if it would emerge. After a couple of minutes of kneeling on the path, staring into a patch of heather and hoping that nobody wandered by – I was rewarded!
Well, it was always going to be some sort of reptile wasn’t it? There is a story behind this little fellow. The fire that ripped through the heath in June, missed the block where this one hatched – by some miracle. It is on a small pensinsula that juts out into the burnt heath, and I really have no idea why it didn’t burn like all around it. Fortunately for him, it didn’t and he survived.
Fortunate for me as well -or I might still be out there, trying to meet that challenge of finding the first sand lizard hatchling of the year!