Basking Day

I was working at Swanwick Lakes with the Beechcroft volunteers again today, we were continuing with work to prepare the north-east meadow for the arrival of the cattle sometime in the next few weeks. Although it was windy the sunshine meant that it was quite warm, especially where there was some shelter. This allowed various sun-loving creatures to be out and about. I saw both comma and peacock butterflies and on one log pile several common lizard.

common lizard

common lizard

When they are basking like this they will spread their ribs a bit to gather more rays and you can see this is the picture. I also got very  lucky and spotted a slow-worm partly hidden under fallen leaves.

slow worm

slow worm

Two lizard species in one day and my first reptiles this year. There were also quiet a few hoverflies and solitary bees flying, especially where there was a good show of primroses to nectar from. These same flowers were also attracting lots of bee-flies, although all that I could see were the common Bombylius major rather than the rarer find of last Monday. 

solitary bee

solitary bee

The field is slowly being cleared of young trees to leave something called a wood-pasture, that is a grazed grass field with trees scattered across it, a habitat with mixed characteristics between a grassland and a woodland. This would have been a habitat quite typical of the historic Forest of Bere a couple of hundred years ago. There are still shadows of this old Forest to be seen in the area, which is still relatively rich in ancient woodland features and species. At Swanwick there are a number of old hedgelines.

old tree with base rotted out.

old tree with base rotted out.

 Turning a log I found a variety of slugs, woodlice and centipedes including this very smart leopard slug.

leopard slug and friends

leopard slug and friends

Some of the logs were also covered in fungi and one had a good show of King Alfred’s cakes.

King Alfred's cake

King Alfred’s cake

 

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