Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Dorset Day

Easter Sunday presented a rare opportunity for myself, Matt and Martin to spend the day together doing something fun! We all work together and never have the same day off but as the shop was shut we had a chance to get out. I've stuck locally for the last month and intend on staying around my area but this day was a chance to go somewhere far flung, with temperatures predicted at 25 degrees but headed for the south coast with the main aim of seeing some reptile species, a group of animals we are all facinated by!

After a bit of over-sleeping and a bacon sarnie stop we finally arrived at Arne RSPB around 8am and began our hunt for reptile species, the main aim was to see Sand Lizards and Smooth Snakes as they are 2 species we cant see locally. The first hour or so of looking proved fruitless, but my first ever Raft Spider spotted by Matt was good to see...



After more searching we ran into some RSPB guys who mentioned a good spot for Sand Lizards, we headed there and once again Matt came up trumps finally spotting our first male!



From that moment on spotting them was fairly easy, we must've seen around 6 or 7 males some of them in glorious green and some juveniles, the males were very active moving around alot, basking out in the open and we even witnessed some fighting! They are truly stunning animals and worth making the trip down south to see....





After a good 2 hours spent with the lizards we headed off back to the car park but not before an RSPB volunteer showed us a Smooth Snake! We couldn't believe it! All 3 of us had never seen one before and this really made the day, admittedly we would've liked to have found one ourselves but they are small, shy and well camouflaged so our chances were thin, photographs were tricky but just seeing one was amazing....




Myself and Martin also had a great encounter with a large female Sand Lizard, the only one we saw during the whole day, not only did she pose for us but she was also in the process of devouring a large dried up earthworm!




The reserve is a great place, lots to see, a good variety of habitats and the staff and visitor centre are top notch, one volunteer also showed us this rare fungus that grows in a specific habitat and in the spring, still trying to find out the name for it!



After a great morning we moved on to Durlston CP in Swanage, the beach was packed full of people and the weather was gorgeous! Ravens were very showy on the clifftops flying right over our heads and landing near us, you couldn't move without hearing a cronking Raven!








On our walk we also saw Wheatear, Rock Pipit, Greater Black Backed Gull, Fulmar, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag and we even heard a Tawny Owl calling during the middle of the day which was odd! Jackdaws posed nicely for us too...






We then began to move back northwards to make the journey home more bearable, we hoped to make it to Boscombe Beach with enough time to spot the 2 introduced lizard species that live there but we made a stop off in Bournemouth to "twitch" the rare Night Heron that had spent t a few days there along the river, we saw it but views weren't easy due to foliage and the light...





Mayflies everywhere....even on Matt's lens!




We ended the day at Boscombe but it was already 6pm and the light and heat was rapidly fading, no lizards could be found but a busy pair of Stonechats feeding near Fisherman's Walk more than made up for it with excellent views....as well as this House Sparrow!











The drive home wasn't too bad and the KFC was great! Great day, good company and awesome wildlife!

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