Thursday, 10 July 2014

Grass Snake Egg Rescue And Some Flutter Pics

So yesterday I'm getting ready to go off to the second part of my Chalk Grassland Wildflowers Course (which was excellent and I learnt a lot) and as usual I'm running slightly late, having got carried away trying to ID some small creatures, when I suddenly realise the dogs are no-where to be seen.

Ted will take himself off for a mooch round the garden, but little Pops is always by my side. 

I realise I haven't seen them for a while.

I call them. 

No response. 

I realise the side gate is open, which is the cue for instant panic from me that some bugger's stolen them (although Ted would bark his head off and Pops would growl and neither of them did). 

I go into the garden and call again. 

No sign of two doggy people coming running. 

I shout to L in a slightly-hysterical way to come and help me look for the dogs because they are missing, and just as he comes outside Pops appears from the top of the garden with a face and paws and tummy covered in soil, followed a second later by Teddy who is equally dirty, and more obviously so being white.

Where have you been? I ask them in the sort of Very Cross Voice you use when you've been frightened and then recovered.

They exchange a look then Poppy puts her paw up and says 'we've been digging in the compost heap, mum! It's Great Fun! Come and see what we've found!'

So we go back up the garden together, the two dogs bounding ahead with tails furiously wagging, and as we reach the pond I notice a small clutch of white eggs lying on the grass.

My heart sinks when I recognise them. They are Grass Snake eggs.

Oh No! I wail. What have you two done?!

They look uncertainly at me, then at the eggs, then at each other. Ted knows digging up snake eggs is naughty and he looks away, embarrassed, but Poppy just keeps looking straight at me with those big brown eyes of hers and wags her tail ferociously as if that's the secret to dealing with all humans.

I scoop up the eggs which feel heavy and full, shoo the dogs back down the garden and put them into the house, locking them in as I go. Then I return to the compost heap which has an enormous scoop hole dug out of it and find several more eggs lying exposed.

I buried them all as best I could and just hope the little snakes inside weren't hurt and will survive. Grass Snakes have been on my mind all week and I've been keeping an eye out for them but with no success. When M got home he built up the wire around the compost heap so now there is no chance of two small terrier people getting in and unearthing them again.

Needless to say they are furious.




They are safely buried under all this leafy/ soily stuff

Fort Knox
On a more positive note, I've seen lots of butterflies out and about this week. It's Perfect Flutter Weather. The Skippers have been laying their eggs on the tall grasses up by the pond, which aptly demonstrates the need to have some unmown areas in the garden and the Whites are starting to arrive in droves and eye-up M's cabbage plants hungrily. He will NOT be pleased.......


Large Skipper on kidney vetch

Large Skipper

Marbled White

Marbled White

Marbled White

Narrow-bordered 5 spot burnet moth

Essex Skipper (note the black under tips to the antennae which distinguish it from the otherwise identical Small Skipper)

Essex Skipper
Marbled White

Volucella zonaria (a beautiful big glossy hover fly)
Comma
Marbled white with red parasitic mite Trombidium breei which does not affect it
Hope you've enjoyed those.

I'll leave you with a pic of the the dogs, looking content in all this warm weather we are having....
And clean again...for now :-)






CT x

18 comments:

  1. Snake eggs eh, I wouldn't have known what they were. Poor dogs they had a little adventure and you were cross. It's like when my puss brings field mice to the back door for us, fortunately she always drops them, and they get away.



    Jean x

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    1. I can't stay cross with them for long- Ted hates being in trouble and Pops just licks you continually until she's forgiven! My Cleo used to bring us Shrews in the same way your puss drops Field Mice for you :-) x

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  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one with access to naughty pets, little shockers digging up grass snake eggs though! I hope they will hatch for you

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    1. I know- Ted has the best sense of smell ever, that's the trouble. Am keeping fingers and toes crossed for the snake smalls :-)

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  3. See now I think that it was a marbled white I saw. There was one banging it's head against my window today. Your dogs look the picture of innocence by the way. When my cat was younger, he would pull slow worms out of the wall and play with them. I could never understand how he could do it.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I thought about marbled white after I left you the comment about the moths. It's probably more likely- there are lots of them this year.
      Cats and dogs do have that amazing ability to sense or smell where things are don't they? Our old cat Jeremy could detect a mole ages before the hill appeared x

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  4. I hope the grass snake eggs hatch ok - lovely to see so many butterflies. I couldn't believe how many Marbled Whites there were last week in Dorset - they were everywhere. I see so few here.

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    1. They're having a tremendous year aren't they? I'm doing a butterfly survey this afternoon and expect to see lots. Last week I counted over 60 at one site! x

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  5. I hope the grass snake eggs survive and hatch, have you had any hatch before?
    You saw some beautiful butterflies, love the marbled white.
    Love the looks on the faces of your dogs, gotta love 'em!!!!
    Have a great weekend xxx

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    1. I've not seen them hatch before but we did have the snakes in the garden last year, including one old female who was getting on for 2m long!
      Have a lovely weekend too, Linda x

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  6. The problem with feed readers is that you get the first post sent out. I was going to say Essex Skipper having spent an inordinate amount of time over the last week staring at photos both mine and on the net, and looking for the telltale black under the antenna tip!! But anyway, you have already amended it. :-)

    Hoorah for finding those grass snake eggs and I hope they'll hatch out. We found some our first year here in a compost pile - some had already hatched and the baby snakes are tiny and adorable.

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    1. Yes, my good friend and flutter expert Dave pointed out the error. I will now be studying the tips of antennae of Skippers more assiduously!!

      Fingers crossed for the snake babies- very envious you actually saw some. I usually find the dried up eggs after they've hatched out.

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  7. Bravo to you for the rescue. I found some river turtle eggs on the bank when we were out canoeing last week and got to put them back in the sandy soil, however some had slipped into the river and those that did, died of course with the cold water surrounding them. I did scoop up the three in the river and brought them home (as they had died) I kept them for my grand nephew next time he comes down to stay and we will do research on turtles - he loves this and is always asking questions - special time together and then we go on our adventure walk, much like your countryside tales, with the exception that I do not possess all your knowledge, however; its coming along and gives a reason to look up what we do not know, or learn from Countryside Tales. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. River turtle eggs sound amazing! We have nothing like that here. Fantastic for your grand-nephew to be able to see them and how lovely you guys can enjoy sharing nature-related stuff. I'll bet you can't wait for his next visit! Thanks for all your lovely words, as always. Have a great weekend x

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  8. Hope the grass snakes are ok, not seen one, and didn't know much about them, from been laid ( is that the right word!) how long is it before they hatch? I do know they don't like it to hot, would your dogs have smelled the eggs or just digging for fun.. Have they ever gone for a adult snake... Think my dog would run a mile with me not far behind :)

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    1. They are extremely wary of people and usually hear us coming long before we get there so they flee or hide themselves away. Beautiful creatures, but they do bring out an ancient instinct of wariness in people :-)
      Have a look at this post of mine from last year for the enormous old female we had in the garden: http://countrysidetales.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/ginormous-grass-snake-in-veg-patch-this.html

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  9. I'm so glad you were able to rescue them - I do hope they'll be ok. We have grass snakes in our garden sometimes, but we don't have a compost heap so there's nowhere for them to lay eggs here. I'd love it if they could, but other inhabitants of this house are no as wildlife friendly as Dave and I! Thank you for the moth info - I've had a look at some Eudonias and thins it's a Eudonia murana.

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    1. I'm just hoping they hatch OK (and keep out of the dogs' way when they do). V welcome re moth info. Micros are always hard to ID with certainty (apart from a few). If you can broadly get the family group you're doing well :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x