Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Friday, 5 June 2015

Black, White and Smooth...

I went on a guided conservation walk a few days ago in Dorset, just to see what sort of work they are doing at the moment and to discover a new piece of heathland that I hadn't ventured onto before. Despite perfect conditions we had very few reptiles (in numbers) although all the natives except adder were present. Sand lizards dominated the figures with half a dozen seen throughout the morning but the highlight was undoubtedly a single large female smooth snake. This individual was extremely dark, verging on melanistic, which is fairly uncommon in austriaca, in fact I assumed at first it might be an adder as melanism is far more common in that species - it's also just about to slough as can be seen by its 'milky' eye colour.

Smooth Snake, Coronella austriaca: R. Harris
Showing the curved rostral scale and milky eye colour
There were also good numbers of Green Hairstreak, Broad-bodied Chaser, Four-spotted Chaser, Black-lined Orthetrum and an Emperor dragonfly.

After the walk finished I couldn't resist zipping off to Wareham, where a summer plumaged White-winged Black Tern had shown up the day before. It had just disappeared before I arrived but thankfully returned 15 minutes later to give incredible views. I didn't get any decent photos as the bird never stopped moving - the only limitation of a bridge camera. At least you can see what it is.

White-winged Black Tern: R. Harris
White-winged Black Tern: R. Harris
White-winged Black Tern: R. Harris


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