Friday, 5 June 2009

Oh it's hot hot hot

A hot day saw the safari wheel down south of the river to try to find the Sand Lizards. Guess what we failed miserably, but then in three years I worked on these dunes I saw one once and that only fleetingly so what do you expect in an afternoon. We did find some tracks, how did we know they were lizard tracks?...Seen loads in Australia.

We also found a lizard egg laying burrow but for some bizarre reason we didn't take a photo...

Another dune speciality is the Natterjack Toad. It lays its eggs in the seasonal dune 'slacks' to avoid competition from Frogs and Common Toads. But it is a risky strategy because the slacks can dry out before the tadpoles have had a chance to develop sufficiently to leave the water.

Frank did his best to flatten them. Poor dear was on his paws all day in that heat and the Hippo in him just came out.

There are some crackin' plants in the dunes too. Early Marsh Orchids were abundant but finding a decent specimen proved to be hard work many were either going over or had been squashed.

Northern Marsh Orchids, on the other hand, were looking at their very best.

And we came acroos this Helleborine which due to its position high on the side of a dune could well be Dune Helleborine - one of the worlds rarest plants, only found at a handful of sites in the country and nowhere particularly numerous. Unfortunately this individual has had its flower buds nibbled off, probably by a Rabbit, or perhaps a Slug.

White Satin moths were emerging all over the stands of the low growing Creeping Willow. There were thousands of them, all except one were female. This is the male with his featehry antennae.

Couldn't resist the on the finger shot.

This is the caterpillar

A Drinker moth caterpillar was a nice find. A biggy at about 75mm long (3 inches)

As well as moths with it being hot there were plenty of butterflies on the wing including a good number of Common Blues.
A movement on the ground drew our attention and at first we couldn't see anything but we did notice the little hole. Then after a couple of seconds this Wasp reversed out dumped a tiny pile of sand and disappeared back down to continue digging.

In a few places throughout the dunes we came across small groups of the rare Northern Dune Tiger Beetle. This species is only found on one other dune system in the UK but is still fairly common in Europe. Infuriatingly they have exceptional eyesight and the annoying habit of leapfrogging along the path in front of you just out of camera range. Patience was required to get any sort of a shot off.

An excellent day's safari and soon to be repeated I hope.
Where to next? Back on to more familiar territory I think as 20+ Bottle Nosed Dolphins were seen off shore to be worth a scan!!!!!!!
In the meantime let us know what is rare and exotic in your outback.

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