Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Wall Lizards

Here are a few photos of Wall Lizards (Podarcis muralis) which I saw on Portland back on March 6th. A new lizard species for me which were very entertaining to watch. I even managed to get some photos of  interactions including mating.

The colour varies between brown like this one and much more green individuals which are mostly the males I think.

Like this one. They also have a few bright blue scales along the lower flank as can also be seen here.
Again this feature is more common on males.

They can be seen pressing their body flat against the rock surface for maximum warmth.

This Bloody Nose Beetle was a little too big to become a meal.

A larger male was approaching this individual which caused it to engage in a rather endearing leg waving behaviour. Its little legs started waving around like windmills.

This encounter ended with the smaller lizard making a hasty retreat after its submissive display.

This female was ignoring the easy meal right beside her as she was watching an approaching male.

He grasps her by the tail 

He gradually moves his grip to the middle of her body before copulation takes place but they moved behind the rock out of sight before this happened.
Who wouldn't with a paparazzo snapping away!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Yellow Whitlowgrass at Pennard Castle

Last Friday we took advantage of the sunny weather and made the long trip to the Gower Peninsula in South Wales to see the early flowering and very rare Yellow Whitlowgrass. In the British Isles it only grows along a ten mile stretch of the south coast of the Gower between Pwlldu Head in the east and Worms Head in the west. It grows on the limestone sea cliffs often in inaccessible spots but fortunately it also grows on the ruins of Pennard Castle. What an amazing place it is. A beautiful rare plant and a breathtaking view, what more could you ask for!

The view from Pennard Castle over Three Cliffs Bay.

Yellow Whitlowgrass adorns the walls along with Navelwort, Rustyback Fern, Maidenhair Spleenwort and Wall Rue.


Yellow Whitlowgrass - Draba aizoides 

I tried to get a shot with both the flower and part of the view in it and I must say I'm pleased with the result. I was lucky one was flowering in the right spot.

Thursday, 24 March 2016


Last Thursday I was in the New Forest hoping to see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, predictably I didn't but did hear a couple. I had a nice view of a Nuthatch though and it made a change to get some photos of one not on a bird table.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

More Early Spring Wildflowers

Yet again I'm doing a big catch up post. I just can't seem to get organized and have let all my photos build up again. Here's a selection from a few recent outings, a couple in Purbeck and another in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. In Purbeck we were looking for some fairly common but pretty small and inconspicuous flowers and I learned not to lie on the ground using a hand lens at the side of the road. This can result in cars stopping, thinking you have been knocked down...Oops! In Oxfordshire we visited the Warburg Reserve to look for Mezereon and in Berkshire the River Loddon to see the Loddon Lily or Summer Snowflake.

Common Whitlowgrass - Erophila verna

Common Whitlowgrass with
Mossy Stonecrop - Crassula tillaea

Sea Mouse-ear - Cerastium diffusum

Little Mouse-ear - Cerastium semidecandrum

This is Little Mouse-ear and Lesser Chickweed you can see how small these flowers are by comparing them with the size of the sand grains. Lesser Chickweed is particularly inconspicuous as it has petal-less flowers.

Lesser Chickweed - Stellaria pallida

Hidcote Blue Comfrey  - Symphytum × hidcotense

Musk Storksbill Erodium moschatum 

Rustyback Fern - Asplenium ceterach

It was great to see an early flowering sallow with no less than six Red Admirals nectaring on it.


Few-flowered Garlic - Allium paradoxum

Summer Snowflake also known as Loddon Lily as it grows along the banks of the River Loddon in Berkshire and elsewhere in the Thames Valley. It is a rare native and can be told apart from the garden variety which is a common escapee by its minutely toothed flower stalks.

Toothed flower stalk.

Summer Snowflake - Leucojum aestivum

 Mezereon at the Warburg Reserve in Oxfordshire. 
This plant seems to be getting rarer in the UK as it seems to have disappeared from many of its recorded sites. It can sometimes be seen as a garden escape but the plants here are native.

Mezereon - Daphne mezereum