Sunday, 28 March 2010

Slow-worms and a High Adder!

Footage from yesterday. A male melanistic adder basking on top of a hedge, plus some natural slow-worm footage.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Newspaper Article - Snakes


Below is a link to a newspaper article I supplied to the local press, it has been slightly changed and edited.
My main purpose was to try and dismiss the fears that some have regarding our native snakes as just rumours and folklore. I hope it helps to save a few!
I usually find between 2 and 5 dead snakes within my reptile sites throughout the Forest of Dean. This figure may not seem high, but it is when both the adder and grass snake are in decline and are both protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Schedule 5 from Trade, Injury and Killing! adder goes forth


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Filming Reptiles

A short film below from 21st March 2010. Reptiles in the Forest of Dean. This clip has been edited down from over 35min of footage. So not to disturb the reptiles, I focus my camera on them and move away, this way I capture their natural behaviour!

Hope you like?


Monday, 22 March 2010

Reptiles in the Forest of Dean

Today "terrible", but what a day yesterday? The sun was blazing and the reptiles were out dancing!
I counted 8 adders, at least 12 common lizards and a slow-worm in just one of my survey spots! Naturally I had the camera(s) with me and glad I did as I captured some of my best snake and lizard footage to date!
Safety in numbers! I think these adders are taking advantage of each others body heat?
I see you! This male was on the look out!
A melanistic male adder. How do I know he was a male? He was out of hibernation very early and one of the first adders I saw this year. The females emerge slightly later.
Notice that he has flattened his body. They do this to create a larger area so that they can absorb more heat from the sun.
A common lizard. Wherever you find the predators, you will find their prey not too far away!


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Juvenile Male Adder (Vipera berus)

They were out basking for approx 2 hours on Friday, before the rain started falling, forcing them the retreat back into hiding. I will wait eagerly for the next dry sunny day!
The two pics are of the same snake, just different angles. He was only a nipper (excuse the pun!), about the thickness of a pencil, but slightly longer.
Photographed with my 100mm macro lens.
Canon 7d - Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro
Canon 7d - Canon 100mm f/7.1 macro


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Great Crested Grebe Footage

I filmed the great crested grebes today. They are constructing a nest, so I should be able to get some decent footage later in the year when the chicks hatch.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Some Grebes and a Short Film

Below are some photographs of a pair of nesting Great Crested Grebes on a local pond. I was using my beanbag and left the tripod in the car. Result? All pics were hand held at 400mm - Yikes!
Lucky to come away with a few keepers!

This bird is the reason we have the RSPB today. The RSPB was formed in the 19th century to protect the Great Crested Grebe as it was hunted to near extinction, for its head feathers!

And this is a new "Spring" video. Filmed for around an hour a day over three days in March and then edited down to 4 mins.


Monday, 15 March 2010

Adders in the Forest of Dean

The first 4 images below are of a male adder, but not just a male adder, a melanistic male adder. This is the first one of this kind I have found in the Forest of Dean, so I am well chuffed.

The last image is of a common male adder.

Melanism is the occurrence of an increased amount of dark pigmentation in the skin, which is also evident in feathers, hair and even the eyes.

It is the opposite of albinism.


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Spawning Frogs

Photographs taken at a pond on a local nature reserve. The water level was quite low and a lot of the spawn was exposed and drying out!
While photographing the frogs I kept looking at the spawn, wondering how long it could survive out of water.
I didn't know the answer to this so I moved it carefully back into the water. It may rain tonight and all may have been fine, but I didn't want to take the risk!
Last year this same pond was full and the spawn was all submerged or floating in the water, but this year is totally different!

Here are some pics taken at the pond over the last couple of days.


Friday, 12 March 2010

Atrazine - Amphibian Killer

Atrazine is a common pesticide, which is commonly used on corn crops among others around the world. It has been revealed that this chemical is having a devastating affect on the world’s frog population, turning male frogs into females!

Sounds bizarre? It gets worse. Once the male frogs have been turned into females, they can breed successfully with other males. The problem is, because the converted frogs are genetically male and they are breeding with another male, all their offspring will be male!

The true male frogs will have no idea, so they will think they have successfully mated, when in fact they have contributed towards their species demise!

The most common Trade Name for this chemical is AAtrex, but other trade names include...

00045 (CA DPR Chem Code) , 080803 (US EPA PC Code) , 1,3,5-Triazine-2,4-diamine, 6-chloro-N-ethyl-N'-(1-methylethyl)- , 1-Chloro-3-ethylamino-5-isopropylamino-2,4,6-triazine , 1912-24-9 (CAS Number) , 1912249 , 1912249 (CAS Number) , 2-Chloro-4-(ethylamino)-6-(isopropylamino)-s-triazine , 2-Chloro-4-(propylamino)-6-ethylamino-s-triazine , 3-(N-Butyl-N-acetyl)aminopropionic acid , 305 (PDP Code) , 45 (CA DPR Chem Code) , 6-chloro-N2-ethyl-N4-isopropyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine , A 361 , AAtram, component of (with 019101) , AAtrex , Aktikon , Aktikon PK , Aktinit A , Aktinit PK , Argezin , Atazinax , Atranex , Atrataf , Atratol , Atrazin , Atrazina , Atrazine , Atrazine , Atrazine (ANSI) , Atrazine plus related active triazines , Azinotox 500 , Candex , Cekuzina-T , Crisazina , Cyazine , Farmco Atrazine , Fenamin , Fenatrol , G 30027 , Gesaprim , Griffex , Guardsman herbicide (080803+129051) , Hungazin , Hungazin PK , Inakor , Oleogesaprim , Primatol A , Primaze , Radazine , s-Triazine, 2-chloro-4-(ethylamino)-6-(isopropylamino)- , Shell Atrazine Herbicide , Strazine , Sutazine +, component of (with 041405) , Triazine A 1294 , Vectal SC , Weedex , Weedex A , Wonuk , Zeazin , Zeazine

If you use pesticides, please check the brand on-line to make sure it has no devastating affects on our wildlife!

Look at the "W" listings above. Recognise the name Weedex? You should do as it is a very common brand in the UK!

I am sure that by now you are all aware that it wouldn't take long for the frogs to breed the true females out and then when the males die, the species will die with them!

This sight may one day be lost forever from our ponds if we don't act now!

PS: This is not scaremongering, it is fact!



Thursday, 11 March 2010

Wood Mouse

This was taken with my Blackberry as I really didn't go out to photograph wildlife, but I guess it just finds me.
It is a wood mouse and it was running around on some grass not far from me and a friend, so we stood still and watched it for a few seconds before I hit the dirt!
I have had plenty of elbow stalking practice lately with the deer, so I went for it.....

Closer and closer I got and it was still sat there munching on its biscuit! I actually got so close my phone could not focus and this is the picture.
It was still sat there munching away when we left, amazing!


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Ninja Skills!

I spent a couple of hours trying to sneak up on fallow deer today. I think I have used up all my Ninja Skills though, as I managed to get quite close!

This young doe took ages to walk out between the trees, but patience sometimes pays off.

I was too impatient and this was my second shot, I spooked him with the first!
It was pure luck that this fella moved his head just as I was looking in his direction or I would never have seen him. Had some serious crawling to do to get closer though!

This was about the best angle and as close as I could get without spooking him. He was dozing nicely and he scared himself a couple of times, making himself jump.


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Resting Fallow Doe

This is a hand held grab shot as I didn't want to disturb them, so I didn't mess around with the tripod etc.
I found three fallow deer doe's lazing under a tree in the spring sunshine, chewing the cud while struggling to keep their eyes open.
It's always nice to see wildlife acting natural and this is one of a series of photographs, which shows her slowly closing her eyes for a mid morning nap!


Monday, 8 March 2010

A Few From Today

A few from today.....

River Severn at Awre
Male Adder
Little Grebe just before a dive
Mallards having a territorial battle
A Coot


Friday, 5 March 2010

The Snake and the Egret

Had a wander before the light levels dipped today. So much for the weather forecast saying it was going to rain! Blue sky and sunshine all day.
And you know what likes sunshine?
He was out basking and as it takes a long time to warm up at this time of year, he was very obliging and let me snap him with my macro lens.

Canon 100mm - f/2.8
(Male Adder)
Then I photographed this Little Egret at Lydney

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Cannop Ponds

Had my new camera arrive today, Canon eos 7d, so I paid a visit to Cannop Ponds for an hour to put it through its paces. The sky went grey and the sun vanished, but it came back out and the sky turned blue as I left. Typical!
Never mind, will give me an excuse to do it again tomorrow, if the weather lets me that is.

Here are some pics from the grey day. I need help identifying a duck please, if anyone can help?

Reed Bunting
Long Tailed Tit

This is the duck I need identifying please.

Mandarin (male)


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Some Deer and a Chaffinch

I allowed myself an hour for lunch today and decided to take a short walk with a friend. Its surprising what you can see if you are quiet!

Fallow Deer

Chaffinch (male)


Monday, 1 March 2010

Forestry Commission Rangers at New Fancy Today

I met and had a good chat with two great guys at New Fancy this morning. They were Forestry Commission rangers and one of our topics was about highlighting adder sightings to the FC so that they can help protect the locations in the future.

If either of the two rangers read this, please comment or email me with the details of the gentleman for me to contact. As neither of us had a pen I was unable to note his name and I have forgotten it.
I already survey for NARRS, but if the FC were also aware of my adder hot spots, it would be extremely beneficial for the snakes.



First Adder of 2010

And some birds of course!

Well the sun was blazing and there was only one thought in my head. Adders!
The temperature was still pretty low, around 6 - 7 degrees, but the sun was strong and there was little wind, so I knew I stood a chance.
There is a young male that I watch every year. I have been watching him for the last 4 years and sure enough he was out, basking in his favourite spot. His eye looked very sharp, but he needs to slough to show off his true magnificence.
He was on the other side of a fence, but I still managed to get a couple of pics of him. I try not to disturb them, especially at this time of year as they have just emerged from hibernation and need all their energy to hunt and survive. The last thing they need is to have to keep moving around because of people ramming cameras in their faces.
The time for pics will come later.

Here he is...

I then left him in peace to catch some more rays.
Moving on, I put some food out for the birds and hung around for a while, hoping for a hawfinch sighting, but it was the usual story I'm afraid, so you will have to settle for these three.

Cole tit soaking up the sun

Lucky little Nuthatch

A male Chaffinch trying to work out what the bright orange this is in the sky!