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Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 23 Dec 2006 Topic: Seasons Greetings



A vipery merry christmas and a happy newt year from me too... 

Peter




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 26 Apr 2007 Topic: The common names game



Rat-tailed maggot


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 15 Mar 2009 Topic: The Grass Snakes are out...



It was warm morning with full sunshine here in NE Hants today.  At 10am two Grass Snakes were out basking amongst the braken at my local Adder site.  These were the first I've seen this year.  As is almost always the case when I see a Grass Snake, they disappeared before I could get any photographs.   I also saw an Adder and, under felts, two Slow Worms.   But as yet, no Common Lizards.

 




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 15 Mar 2009 Topic: A huge amount of frogspawn



 

 

Peter Vaughan39887.7189467593


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 15 Mar 2009 Topic: A huge amount of frogspawn



Posts moved to the "Common Frog" part of the Forum - my apologies for mistakenly putting the orginal on "Adder".

Peter Vaughan39887.7214467593


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 15 Mar 2009 Topic: A huge amount of frogspawn



At a local pond today I saw more frogspawn than I've ever seen - I'd estimate 10 to 20 square meters of the pond surface was covered in continuous sheets of it.  It was visible from 50 meters away.  A picture of the largest area (there were several more) attached. 

I also saw two toadspawn strings and many toads gathered in and around the frogspawn - including some with frogs attached (I'd have thought the frogs might have had enough...). 

 

 




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 30 Mar 2007 Topic: Biiiig puddy tats



Tony - I know you've had a full and interesting past but re Gillian Anderson - are you speaking from personal experience?


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 25 Feb 2008 Topic: WHAT NO MORE 2008 SLOWORMS



I saw one out in the open 9th February (but reported it on the Adder thread by mistake).  I saw it again yesterday - it appears to have taken up residence under a felt, and is still very torpid.  I also saw the same Adder that was out two weeks ago, though it (or rather he, I think) has managed to move a few meters from its first basking site.  But the most suprising thing I saw this weekend were a lot of fat green aphids on the flower head of a "Stinking Hellebore" plant in a local woodland.  Aphid infestation outdoors in February - that does seem a bit early?  Time for Life in Cold Blood.


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 15 Jun 2005 Topic: Ecto -parasite?



Further to Chris Davis's comments on possible vectors - there are no sheep on the site (a wet heath) where I saw the Common Lizard with the tic but there are Roe Deer and horses.

P.S. Are there still Sand Lizards and Natterjacks on the Wirral coast?  I lived in the area as a youth back in the 1970s, and although I never (knowingly) saw Sand Lizards I did see Natterjacks at one sand dune location.

Peter Vaughan




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 17 Mar 2007 Topic: 1st Grassie of 2007



Yes there has been a lot of water about - wellies rather than walking boots for site visits this spring.  But both my local sites are wet heaths and usually fairly wet anyway in the winter.  The two local hiberantion sites I know of are both on slightly higher ground - in the case of the Adders only very subtley so - and were clear of the nearby sheets of water.  And today it was noticably drier.  Not a huge number of sightings this morning - one coiled-up Adder, one Grass Snake (which at first i thought was a stick that looked like it had Grass Snake markings!) and one sub-adult Common Lizard under a tin.  There was intermitant bright sunshine but it was perhaps a bit breezy, with no butterflies out.  First Bee Flies of the year though.

Peter




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 24 Mar 2005 Topic: Adder Watching Help!!



On the subject of when Grass Snakes slough, I found three skins in late June/early July 2004 - all by accident - at a local nature reserve in North Hampshire.

The first was just after observing several large Grass Snakes- presumably female - basking on piles of logs.  My wife spotted what appeared to be another one at the base of a gorse bush - which on closer inspection was an intact skin in good condition (e.g. you could make out the eye coverings on the head), just under a metre in length.

The location of the second two came to light following a mid-day visit to a pond in the same area, to take some digital photgraphs of dragonflies.  On returning home, and viewing the images on a PC, I saw, on one picture of a dragonfly perching on a log at the edge of a pond, a section of a snake skin - which I'd not noticed while in the field.  I returned to the pond that evening and found two intact skins partly wedged under the log - one just under a metre, one just over. 

I understand that female Grass Snakes shed their skin just before egg-laying, so presumably the skins could have been from the same individuals I'd seen basking nearby.  Judging by the locations of where I found the skins their owners appeared to have used tight spaces to wedge themselves in to assist the sloughing process?

One question I'd appreciate some advice on is whether the length of a shed snake skin is the same as that of its former owner - or whether some stretching (or shrinking) is likely to have occured?

 

 

 




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 25 Mar 2005 Topic: Common Lizard Identification & Sightings



First Common Lizard sighting for me this year was on Saturday 19 March at my local nature reserve in north Hampshire - but that was just a fleeting glimpse of one making for cover. 

This afternoon I was able to watch a couple basking for several minutes. 

My first sighting of Grass Snakes in 2005 were on 16 March (the first warm day we'd had after the weeks of cold weather).

 

 




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 05 Apr 2005 Topic: Ecto -parasite?



While watching a group of three Common Lizards on a woodpile this afternoon I noticed one with some grey oval objects on its body just behind a foreleg.  Some of these seemed to be lost as it moved around but I took a picture of one still attached (to follow).

Grateful for advice on whether it is likely to be parasite - possibly a tic?

Peter vaughan




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 15 Aug 2005 Topic: Viviparous lizard photographs



My first sighting of a new-born Common Lizard this summer was on Saturday 6 August at a local wet heathland reserve in North Hampshire.  It was basking on a pile of old birch logs (on which I've also frequently seen Grass Snakes). Picture attached.

 

GemmaJF38580.3548148148


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 20 Aug 2005 Topic: Hornets Nest



The numbers of Hornets out and about around my local Reserve increases this time of year and last summer I was able to observe one of their nests near the base of a tree.  I agree they are handsome creatures and understand they are increasing their range northwards.  They are not rare where I live (in North East Hampshire) - although, in my experience, tend to be seen out in the countryside rather than in urban/sub-urban locations.   I think however that, like the adder, they should be treated with respect when it comes to handling.  I've heard them described as the UK's least aggressive wasp (towards humans) but also read somewhere that a sting from a Hornet could kill a horse.  That may be an over-exaggeration - but I'd expect if they were provoked to sting that would be a more serious affair than that of a common wasp - in any event it is not something I'd like to put to a test!




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 20 Aug 2005 Topic: Native Crickets & Grasshoppers.



Two weeks ago, while on Magdalen Hill Down butterfly reserve near Winchester, I saw an insect I'd not come across before - which turned out to be Roesel's Bush-cricket.  That, and seeing a full grown Great Green Bush-cricket in Dorset, inspired me to try to identify the orthopterans on my local wet-heathland reserve.  I've so far found Long-winged Conehead bush crickets and Meadow Grasshoppers - no doubt there are other species there as well.  I'm using the FSC laminated sheet "Guide to British Grasshoppers and allied insects" - which is clear and simple.   I've also got "Grasshoppers" by VK Brown, one of the Naturalist's Handbooks series (ISBN 0 85546 277 9) which I've found full of interesting stuff on UK species and which also has an id section.


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 18 Nov 2005 Topic: Grass Snake Identification & Sightings



Great to see the Forum back .

It seemed easier to observe the Grass Snakes at my local reserve during September and October - perhaps because the vegetation had thinned out a bit and temperatures were that bit cooler.  My last sighting was on 16 October, but here is a photograph of one on a log pile taken on 10 September.

 

thinned




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 25 Feb 2006 Topic: 2006 is comino to life!



It snowed here in North East Hants yesterday - today was bright sunshine with a cold North-East wind.  I went looking for adders at a site where they'd been reported last autumn.   None were about but I did find an active Common Lizard in a sheltered spotSmile.  It was missing a lot of its tail.  Picture is not great - but since its the first reptile I've seen this season, and there don't seem to be very many other Common Lizards reported yet (leaving aside the under-cover gathering that Gemma reported a few days ago), I thought I'd share it.


Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 25 Mar 2006 Topic: Early adders?



An exciting day for me in my first sighting of Adders at my local heathland nature reserve here in north-east hampshire (I'll email the precise location to Jon).

Weather conditions this morning seemed promising, broken sunshine and mild temperature (but some wind).  I went to check-out a local grass snake site at 10am but none were about yet (they had emerged on 16 March last year) - and no Common Lizards either.  Just a Brimstone butterfly flying around to signal that yes it really was spring.  At 11am I went on to a site were Adders had been reported last Autumn.  By then it had clouded over and rain was threatening.  I've been checking this site every weekend since the middle of February and this morning I had a distinct feeling that I was just going through the motions and doubting whether last year's report was relaible, about to turn round and go home when... there it was, coiled up a few meters ahead of me, clearly visible on an animal track, an unmistakeable Adder!   It was a wary specimen and quickly retreated into vegetation.  A few minutes later it had re-emerged and I was able to photograph it at a distance of about 4m - it is the one stretched out.  A little later - towards 12 noon - I saw another, smaller individual, just 5 meters away from where the first had been lying out.  This second one was much more torpid, remaining coiled up while I was able to approach right next to it and take some pictures at less than 20cm distance, while it only slowly raised it head and then moved into cover in a fairly languid manner.  I'd be grateful for views on the gender of these two snakes - the second, smaller one (coiled up in the photo) looks fairly brown to me, which would indicate a female? 

I've lived in this location for fifteen years and only today seen Adders which live within walking distance of my home.  Just goes to show what wildlife treasures can go unobserved on your doorstep. 

Peter




Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan
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Posted: 26 Mar 2006 Topic: Early adders?



Thank you to Gemma and Alan for the advice on how to tell an Adder's gender.  I went back to same spot at 1pm today.  Conditions were dull, with the beginings of a fine drizzle but one Adder was laying out in the same spot as yesterday - the more torpid one.  It watched me for a few minutes, providing a good view of its upper labials which looked reasonably white, before moving off slowly, providing a good view of its smoothly tapering tail (possibly missing a bit at the end?).  So confirmed as a male.  

For my pictures I'm using a Minolta Diamage Z5 5 Mega pixel camera, which has a built in 10X optical zoom and 1cm macro function, but am hankering after a digital SLR with a macro lens.

Peter Vaughan38802.3565509259


Peter Vaughan

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