Monday, 23 April 2012

One Week Rolled Into One Post

A busy week, but not really with regards to birds. First of all, I can't resist posting this picture of a Hazel Dormouse in a state of torpor, found in a nest box that was due for cleaning. This lovely little arboreal mammal didn't seem to mind being weighed and clipped, and slept happily through it all.......

Hazel Dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius

On Friday, I was on the Pond Survey Course at Woods Mill run by the SWT. It was a fascinating day, with lots learnt, and also lots found, my favourite being the Smooth and Palmate Newts; the first pictures being of a male Palmate Newt. It is possible to I.D it as a male Palmate due to the presence of the thin filament present on the end of it's tail, and it's black webbed rear feet.

Palmate Newt, Lissotriton helveticus

When it comes to the females, it is slightly trickier to separate the Smooth and Palmate. The most reliable way is to look at the throat. The female Smooth Newt has an orange pigment present in the throat, and it is often (but not always) spotty. The female Palmate lacks both spots and any pigment, giving the throat a much more reddish colour.

Palmate Newt, Lissotriton helveticus
Smooth Newt, Lissotriton vulgaris

Unfortunately we didn't find any Great Crested Newts but we did find an egg (under the supervision of a licence holder I must add). All three species of newt lay their eggs one at a time onto a piece of vegetation, then fold the leaf around the egg to protect it from predators. The Great Crested Newt egg is easy to identify, as it is bright white, compared to the others which are a duller colour and almost impossible to separate.

Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) Egg

And to finish, something bird related. Ringing on Saturday was quiet, but it's not always about quantity. Blackcaps, Chiffcahffs, Long-tailed Tits, Blackbirds and two Song Thrushes were all caught, but the highlight was this Reed Warbler, the first of the year. Even better was that this bird was ringed at Steyning for the first time in 2007! Great to see it still coming back.

Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus

On a final note, we had a wonderful day out walking the Seven Sisters on Sunday. Despite it being very windy, the sun was out and so were the birds, and we had great views of Wheatear, Stonechat, Raven, Meadow Pipit and Skylark, and the Fulmars put on a wonderful display! A very happy day indeed.

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