Thursday, 29 March 2012

Brown Hares at last!

As mentioned in a previous post I have been trying to photograph Brown Hares Lepus europaeus. I have seen up to 6 hares in a spot a 10 minute drive from my house, over the last week or so I have worked out their habits. They tend to get active between 6-7pm with a peak about 6.30pm. They appear on a piece of moorland and enter a lush field through a fence and then feed. With this knowledge I positioned myself in the car and waited. The first hare appeared running up the moorland, it hesitated at the gate then hopped through and then ran to the bottom of the field "bugger" no photos. Luckily no 2 appeared 10 minutes later, this one hopped through and then sat in a perfect position. Night 2 at just after 7pm when I was about ready to call it a day, 2 hares appeared together, neither stayed put as they entered the field but I got a shot of one squeezing through the gate and running off. The next mission is to photograph some sparring activity, and still got those pesky Mountain Hares to Photograph.

All photos © Carl Corbidge

Monday, 26 March 2012

Owls Slow Worms and Newts

On Friday afternoon Matt Wilson came over from Lancs for a spot of herping with a bit of birding thrown in. First stop was a pair of Peregrines Falco peregrinus on a city church, we had very good views of both birds and in fact saw the pair mating. The male flew off and 2 minutes later came back with a starling which the female didn't seem too impressed with. After this I took Matt to a spot where i've been watching a pair of Little Owls Athene noctua and sure enough one was in situ. After dark we went to 3 newt ponds, in the first we had about 6 Smooth Newts Lissotriton vulgaris, driving to the second we had a Badger Meles meles running in front of the car. At the second and third ponds a total of 5 Smooth Newts and 3 Great Crested Newts Triturus cristatus along with a few Common Frog Rana temporaria and Common Toad Bufo bufo. There were also a lot of dead frogs in the last pond probably having been caught pot and trapped under ice.

 Peregrine Falcon © Carl Corbidge
 Peregrine Falcon Female © Carl Corbidge
 Common Toad © Carl Corbidge
 Great Crested Newt (in situ) © Carl Corbidge
Smooth Newt © Carl Corbidge

We woke to fog Saturday Morning that didn't clear until gone dinner time. We checked a potential new adder site but only had a Viviparous Lizard. We then headed over to a Slow Worm Anguis fragilis site. I don't normally see these up in the north until the first week of April but with the warm weather we found a male and a female, my earliest date so far. After this I thought we would try a couple of sites where there are Grass Snake Natrix natrix as well as Slow Worms however no further herps were found. En-route we saw a few Buzzards Buteo buteo and several Kestrels Falco tinnunculus along with some other avian sitings..

Matt and Slow Worm © Carl Corbidge
 Female Slow Worm © Carl Corbidge
 Male Kestrel © Carl Corbidge
 Curlew © Carl Corbidge

Matt went home Saturday evening. Sunday evening I went out a couple of miles up the road to try and photograph Brown Hares Lepus  europaeus, I have recently seen up to 6 but they're easily spooked and bolt off at the first sign of trouble. However I have managed a few shots. The Little Owls were in residence and I even managed to photograph them together (Monday evening). An Oystercatcher Haematopus ostraegus was a surprise in fields along with Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and Curlews Numenius aquata. However the best was yet to come heading back home I spotted an owl flying, I thought great a short eared owl but as it landed on a wall even better a Long Eared Owl Asio otus and the first one i have seen flying in daylight.

 Above and Below Brown Hare © Carl Corbidge

 Above 3 photos Little Owl © Carl Corbidge

 Above 3 photos Long Eared Owl  © Carl Corbidge
Oystercatcher  © Carl Corbidge

Monday, 19 March 2012

A Mammal First and a few other bits and bobs

Whilst searching a new area for adders where there "are definately adders there" but no one has seen them type place I came across a Leveret. After consulting a few sources I have decided it is a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus it was in an area where both species can be found, but Mountain Hare  Lepus timidus leverets appeared a bit plainer. This is the first one I have found, it sat there motionless hoping not to be seen, quite well camouflaged. The adults spread out their young, a strategy to stop predators finding a whole litter and indeed I couldn't find anymore. There was an adult DOR moutain hare a couple of miles down the road.

 Above 3 Brown Hare Leveret © Carl Corbidge
An Unfortunate Mountain Hare © Carl Corbidge

Back to one of my adder sites and I found 2 males, 1 female and 3 juveniles which gives a minimum of 4 and most probably 5 juveniles at this site. After seeing a Little Owl Athene noctua on a old shed on a number of occasions, it finally stayed put and allowed me to get some shots there were also a few other birds making there way onto the moorlands. I had another look at the Peregrines in the city, where they seemed to have paired up

 Above and Below 2 different juvenile Adders © Carl Corbidge

 Little Owl © Carl Corbidge
 Above and Below Peregrine © Carl Corbidge

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

More and More Adders

With some decent weather over the weekend (in fact too nice) I went out to do my first big Adder Vipera berus survey. I set off early on Sunday and went to my first spot where i've had a max of 5 so far. I quickly found 7 males and 3 Viviparous Lizards Zootoca vivipara. I moved on expecting some big numbers but only another 1 where I would normally expect another 7-8. I headed off to another area, here I met Tracy and Paul regular surveyers who were also down on numbers for the day. Tracy had seen a snake the week before that she thought was a female but didn't get a good enough look. Sure enough it was out along with a male and a juvenile, one further male gave 12 for the day, we searched some other areas but it was way too warm.
I was off work on Monday and went out again. I had a total of 16 for the day 13 males, 1 female and 2 juveniles, 13 snakes were additional to the day before, giving a total of 25 for the 2 days, 21 male, 1 female and 3 juveniles. The female is the earliest date that I have had one by about 10 days and it was interesting to see that 3 young are still associating with her (assuming she's the mum).
There were also lots of birds back up on the moors, Skylarks, Curlews and one of my favourites Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.

 3 males together © Carl Corbidge
 Female © Carl Corbidge
 1st Juvenile © Carl Corbidge
 2nd Juvenile© Carl Corbidge
 3rd Juvenile © Carl Corbidge
 Lapwing © Carl Corbidge
Frogspawn© Carl Corbidge