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Friday, 25 March 2011

A Nest of Vipers!

Having to use my A/L up, I had a whole day out today.
First up was yet another disappointing trip to Sotterley where, as usual I saw no sign of the Hawfinches. A Treecreeper heard near the entrance, single Nuthatches seen and heard at the Dell and near the church plus a Redwing flying across the entrance field and a calling Chiff- Chaff was the first herald of Spring amongst the common migrants, albeit rather late for my first of the year.
A female Sparrowhawk flying over the Dell caused several of the Tit species to alarm call.
Drving back first eitther a Stoat or Weasel dashed across the road from right to left and a pair of Buzzards soaring over a wood plus a female Sparrowhawk flying over.
Kessingland Sewage works was the next stop and walking down I saw my first butterflies of the year, 2 Small Tortoiseshells and 2 Peacocks near the sewage worksI saw 6 male/ 1st year male Reed Buntings and 4 Pied Wagtails on the sewage beds and an eventually showy Chiff- Chaff called from the trees further down the track. A Little Grebe was heard "winnowing" from the marsh but not seen.

A disappointing morning was followed up by an excellent afternoon of wildlife watching following a quick lunch stop at home. By 1pm I was driving down the track down to an area of local woodland. A fine Brimstone butterfly seen flying by the right hand side of the road.
Walking down the northern most track (following the power lines) I walked 2/3 of the way down and at the usual place I noted my first Comma butterfly of the year and my second Brimstone flying past east. From the area of heather I heard the slithering sound of 2 unidentified snakes plus a few metres west from here I heard yet another slithering sound and I saw a very dark looking young Grass Snake briefly and then the more usual olive-green coloured one, an adult Grass Snake with the usual yellow neck collar marking.
Dog walkers going past a few metres away then forced it to move off. I then walked futher down the track almost to the end and at an area by 2 20 foot tall "distinctive trees". I had the incredible experience of seeing 8 Adders, lying together in pairs just underneath the lower fronds of this tree. 8 Adders all contained within a 2 1/2 metre area. They allowed a close approach and I was just over a metre away from them. This group of 8 were sunbathing and they were "lying" together in pairs, 1 seeking out the other. The males of the group (around 3 seen) seemed to go on regular patrols around the edge of the tree whilst the females seemed to just lie there sunbathing! It was fascinating to see them really flatten their bodies and therefore increase the surface area, so they could soak up as much heat (essential for a cold blooded reptile) from the sunlight as possible.
I left them after taking a few pictures and then walked on to the last bit of heather just before the last pylon and saw another group of 4 Adders briefly sunbathing here too, but I spotted them too late and they all slithered off on my approach. Another Adder, my 13th of the day, was seen right at the end where I had seen some the previous year.
Several groups of Siskin flew over small groups of 4 to 15 (perhaps 60 seen in total), plus 8 chacking Fieldfares flew over here, 2 Crossbills flew over and walking back a Fallow Deer rtan off through the bracken. Near the new clearing, a further 2 Crossbills and a further 8 flew by. A Chiff- Chaff was heard calling too.
Whilst taking the track to the clearing I came across an unfortunate freshly dead Woodcock, it had obviously met its demise by having flown into something solid; a tree trunk/ or lorry maybe? As the bill was damaged half way down with the angle of the bill veering of to the right by some 15 degrees. 

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