Easter Explorations

Over the Easter holidays in April, I took advantage of the lovely weather by visiting a couple of wildlife spots I’ve been to previously, to see what I could find this year. First, there was a nature reserve in Cumbria, where I ended up staying for four hours as I was having such a nice time.

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There were common lizards everywhere, mostly on the boardwalk but some in the foliage as well: I must have seen at least 40 in all. Among the many birds around was a male reed bunting, singing loudly in a tree.

What I was really hoping to spot, however, was a snake. And when I did, it happened quite unexpectedly: my circuit had taken me back to the car park, I turned around, and a male adder was slithering across the road! He quickly disappeared into the foliage on the other side, but it gave me encouragement. I went looking back along the boardwalk, and sure enough, there was another male adder slithering among the dry leaves. It was a very productive day for wildlife watching.

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A couple of days later, I went for a walk among the sand dunes in Lytham, where I had previously spotted more common lizards. I soon spotted one in the same area I had seen them before, though it was gone very quickly. As I walked, I regularly heard rustling sounds in the grass, but there was no way to know if it was lizards. Finally, I did see another lizard about half a mile away from the first; that one vanished in about two seconds, before I could photograph it. That’s the problem with sunny weather; it leaves reptiles well energised!

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Adding to my adder count

I had another snake sighting in Cumbria in late June.

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This morning, I drove up to Cumbria again to go for a walk around another nature reserve. It was a hazy morning, quite cool at first in the woodland, but it had certainly warmed up by the time I got out into the open to walk along the bog boardwalk.

I got a pleasant surprise when I happened to look to the side at the right moment and recognise the distinctive zigzag of an adder, sunbathing on top of the dead leaves – the second adder I’ve seen this year. I managed to get one photograph without being able to see its head; but before I had even begun to move to try and get a better view, it slithered under the leaves and out of sight, hissing as it went.

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And on the way back, there was a common lizard sunning itself on the boardwalk too.

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Roaming for reptiles in Cumbria

Thinking back to finding reptiles in Cumbria this spring…

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Spring has definitely arrived in my neck of the woods, and as well as checking up on my local ponds for frogs spawning in early March, I’ve also been looking for opportunities to find a British reptile or two. In April, I paid a couple of visits to Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve in south Cumbria, a peatbog area where you need to use a boardwalk to get around.

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When I visited at the beginning of April, good sunshine was intermittent and the weather was fairly chilly. It was late morning when I suddenly spotted two common lizards (Zootoca vivipara) basking on a south-facing patch of moss at the bottom of a tree. Walking up and down the boardwalk, I had five more sightings of lizards within half an hour.

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In the past few days, Britain has enjoyed some especially warm weather, and today seemed like a good day…

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