I lied, there wasn’t a snake in my boot this week … but snakes did feature, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use this quote from such an epic film (Toy Story in case you didn’t know, but you should know because Toy Story is amazing and everyone has seen it!).
Before the snakes, there were birds. Lots of birds. I was doing a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) course at the Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve, and it was fab to go out into the countryside with someone who could identify all the birds we could see and hear. The latter is particularly difficult most of the time as although some birds are very distinctive in their call or song, there are many that sound fairly similar. Plus, many have a variety of calls or song, and some birds mimic other species (I’m looking at you Great Tit!).
All in all, there were: Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Chiff Chaff, Swallow, House Martin, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wren, Goldcrest, Garden Warbler, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Buzzard and Rook. Another walk after the course had finished saw me adding Greater-spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer and Bullfinch to the list.
Reptilian training took place on Upton Heath Nature Reserve with the traineeship manager, and smooth snake / sand lizard licence holder, Steve Davis. It was an epic day – Common Lizard, Sand Lizard, Slow Worm and Smooth Snake were seen, and we got to handle the latter! I was quite nervous because … well, it’s a snake! I was afraid it might bite me, but I was also really nervous about stressing it out or dropping it. Luckily none of that happened, and instead we all marvelled over how cute they are!
I also saw some lovely moths (naturally!) including the Common Heath moth of whom I saw both a male and a female! In addition, there were lots of lovely birds about – Stonechat, Linnet, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo and Dartford Warbler.
The second half of the week saw me back at the Chesil Beach Centre, but I was soon whisked away to do a quick search for a rare moth – the Least Owlet, whose only UK distribution is on Chesil Beach! We were looking for the larvae of this caterpillar, who are quite pedantic about their habitat, so it wasn’t too hard to find them once I got my eye into it.
Following this mini expedition, I headed out on another one – a wildflower walk on Chesil Beach with Angela Thomas, the assistant warden for the Fleet Nature Reserve. There are many flowers out on the beach, and they are stunning. A couple of of my favourites are Sea Campion (white) and Thrift (pink), and you can see why – it’s gorgeous!
Naturally we saw a variety of other wildlife out on the beach, from birds (Linnet, Skylark, Wheatear, Herring Gull, Little Tern), to beetles and moths (I’m finding that there are moths everywhere if you look for them!).
So a very packed week, and I’ve not even included everything – I’ve seen a number of other moths (Muslin, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Cinnabar and some micros whose names I can’t remember!), startled a hedgehog in the garden and seen a number of butterflies (they’re not as interesting as moths though).