About Two Owls

Saturday 17 August 2019

Recent Happenings

Well since our last post a lot has happened though being honest the birding front has been typically slow as it always is in mid summer, leaving little to write about.  It has been in the insect and reptile world where things have been exciting.  As here a matter of a 100m from home Ian Ballam called me and says I've found Southern Migrant Hawker of the footpath near where they were last year.  So I headed over the road and met him near the drying up pools.  The reason this is exciting is last years records were the first to fourth records for the county and to have them again implied that they had have bred possibly in 2017 season and were undetected.  This year we have had at least four pairs which have been seen in tandem and been seen ovipositing so hopefully this very tenuous potential population will continue to grow adding a new breeding species to the county. 

Male Southern Migrant Hawker - Lytchett Bay © Nick Hull
Staying with dragonflies Longham Lakes also recorded a second record of (Broad) or Scarlet Darter two years after the first one found by Martin Woods.
Male Scarlet Darter or Broad Scarlet © Nick Hull
As many of you are aware I volunteer at RSPB Arne and as part of a small group of like minded people  we conduct the reptile surveys, and help out generally with the public.  One of the advantages in doing this is that every so often during our surveys we will find a Smooth Snake or two.  Recently the reserve had a reptile 'Show & Tell' amazingly we were able to show and talk about five of the six native species the only absentee was Adder and not because its our only venomous snake it's because none were found.  The real privilege is that I get to show the young and old Britain's rarest snake and they are simply the best, they always seem to be happy to just rest in a pair of warm hands and really not mind at all.  Saying this I'm always very aware not to stress them and if I feel the animal isn't happy it is placed back in it's holding tank to relax and chill out.  The show & tell went really well, with many young people and their parents enjoying the chance to see and learn about these precious animals really close up, many seeing them for the first time.

My hand & female Smooth Snake at its release on the day of the Show & Tell photo © Bev Langdon

We always try to photograph all the Smooth Snakes as we do Adders because the head and neck markings are individual to the animal. The aim is to attempt to try to understand their movements, the type and location of heathland they prefer and most importantly to try and understand more about them, so when any conservation work is to be carried out we can reduce the disturbance and do not destroy their prefer habitat.  Unfortunately so little is known about Smooth Snake it makes this work extra important.  I should add that we do this under license and have very strict rules to abide by.