A Day in Dorset (half 1)

Just a few weekends again, I met up with a college pal and went for a day journey to some heathland in Dorset, with the hope of discovering some totally different and fewer widespread creatures. Dorset is well-known for its animal range and lots of of Britain’s rarer organisms may be discovered there, moreover its heathlands are infamous for holding all six native reptile species (see record beneath). It was these that we had been significantly hoping to see, we particularly needed to discover a clean snake, what with them being so uncommon and sparsely distributed. So, we set of with our cameras and assortment pots to Greater Hyde heath. An exquisite nature reserve (though not significantly simple to search out), it was chosen as a result of neither of us had been earlier than and all of the reptile species are recognized to reside there. Sadly, we didn’t discover a clean snake, nevertheless we did have an unbelievable day and noticed loads of different superior creatures.

The doorway to the reserve is fairly effectively hidden and when the web site stated a “small automobile park” they weren’t joking, with it being a patch of grass with house for under round 3 vehicles. That being stated, it actually had character and as we had been the one automobile bar one, it was good to know it could be quiet (aside from the gun pictures coming from the close by capturing membership!). From the automobile, you may take a path to a chicken disguise or steps by the woods to the heath, we selected the latter. The trail runs round a big pond earlier than opening up into an enormous open house that comprises correct heathland, grassland and moist boggy areas, offering an awesome range of habitats to assist a myriad of creatures.

One of many first moments of pleasure was once we discovered a chunk of sheet steel refugia (the collective time period for synthetic items of refuge positioned for reptiles and different animals). Though we discovered nothing below this piece, it gave us hope that there was extra across the heathland which made the potential for discovering reptiles all of the extra promising. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than we discovered one other piece of sheet steel and below it our first reptile, a gradual worm (Anguis fragilis). An excellent first discover, they’re pleasant lizards and sadly I don’t see them as usually as I used to. , together with the gradual worm there was an impressively giant ants nest below the steel refugia, which was fascinating as a result of, after I was on a herpetology area journey in North Wales, the entire gradual worms had been discovered below refugia alongside an ant’s nest. I’m curious as as to whether there’s some form of relationship between them, with the gradual worm offering safety from beetles and different ant predators and presumably the ants offering some form of profit. Or maybe they each simply benefit from the residual heat that the steel retains. As we held the steel as much as take pictures the ants eliminated the entire larvae from the floor (alrhough extra weak they’re on the prime to learn from the heat) to the security of underground. They did this quickly and once we returned a bit later we discovered that that they had all been changed again on the floor. The effectivity and devotion of the ant staff by no means fails to amaze me.

slow worms 1
Attributable to them being extra widespread gradual worms are sometimes missed, however they are surely gorgeous.
Ants
Ants below refugia, they took the entire larvae below floor in a matter of minutes
slow worms
Not the most effective image, however exhibits the gorgeous sample of the gradual worm

One of many species we noticed greater than another was the silver studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus), whereas it’s common for them to happen in giant numbers, their distribution is sort of restricted and these colonies are compact inside small areas. These are usually round sand dunes and heathland so it was no shock that we noticed them. But it surely was a primary for me and a fully stunning species to see.

DSC_3270
The attractive silver studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus)

The character reserve comprises quite a few small hills and lumps, the perimeters of which had been lined in lengthy vegetation and one other fascinating species that we noticed all through the day was the nursery net spider (Kriira mirabilis). The females of this species present a level of parental care not usually demonstrated by spiders and construct a silk “nursery” for the spiderlings to reside in. The feminine really carries her egg sac round along with her, utilizing her chelicerae, after which when the younger are able to hatch the nursery is spun for them to remain protected in till they’re able to enterprise out on their very own. A captivating species and a surprising spider.

Nursery web spider
The fascinating feminine nursery net spider (Kriira mirabilis) sitting on her silk nursery stuffed with child spiders.

Though we solely spent a day in Dorset we crammed lots in and to stop this submit from turning into a dissertation size ordeal, I’m going to separate the journey into two, presumably three posts. Thanks for studying! I hope you have loved this submit and preserve an eye fixed out for the observe up submit which is able to function extra superior animals, together with Britain’s longest dragonfly and an adder!

For shorter, extra frequent posts do not forget to observe me on twitter: Matthew Woodard @ZoologyNotes

Britain’s six native reptile species

  1. Grass snakes (Natrix Natrix)
  2. adders (Vipera brush)
  3. Easy snakes (Coronella austriaca)
  4. Widespread (viviparous) lizards (Zootoca vivipara)
  5. slowworms (Anguis fragilis)
  6. Sand Lizards (Lacerta agilis)

A implausible area information on Britain’s reptiles and amphibians is accessible and I extremely advocate it in case you’re involved in their biology, habitat and distribution.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Britains-Reptiles-Amphibians-WILDGuides-Howard/dp/1903657253/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1500791742&sr=8-2&key phrases=britainpercent27s+reptiles+and+amphibians