Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Sea, The Sea, Diet Update & The Baby Grass Snakes Have Hatched!

First, a quick update on the New Diet. It seems eating as our ancestors would have done is working, because I've been pretty much pain free since Friday. Good.

We went to Keyhaven this morning as I was getting sea withdrawal symptoms. The sun shone and it was hot (22 degrees). M went swimming, Poppy considered it but the swish swash of the water against the pebbles on the beach put her off and Ted sat on the edge of the water woofing at M to please be careful and can you get out soon in fact, Dad? L made me feel sick by jumping from one enormous flood-defence boulder to another. These have huge bloody great cracks to fall down/ break legs on and he does this every time we visit, knowing full well that I hate it. To soothe my nerves I took photos of Turnstones (love them) and made a small pebble tower (obligatory) and generally enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my skin........










When we got home I gave both the dogs a bath. They are now white, fluffy and generally sweet smelling, which is not like them at all. Teddy threw me a reproachful look while I was drying him off as if asking why did you have to do that? while Pop made a bee-line straight for the back door in a very obvious attempt to escape into the garden and thereby roll in earth or pigeon poo. I was too quick for her though and got there first, shutting the door so she couldn't get out. She was furious.
 
L hates baths or anything to do with personal hygiene in general (classic teenage water aversion) and usually whinges about having to run the bath too. Sunday is bath and hair wash night here, so after I'd shampooed the dogs I called down to say he could have an early bath if he wanted because there was one already run. For some reason, he wasn't keen...... 


After all that excitement, we went blackberrying to some late-flowering brambles we found in a hedgerow by a field while we were walking the dogs last weekend. The farmer has cut the hedge in the interval, but there were still two tub's worth. Some of these will be going into my new paleo berry burst breakfast smoothie tomorrow.....


Yum

Back at the start of summer I put out a refugia (a type of ground sheet for reptiles and small mammals) at the top of the garden near the pond. I have been hoping to find slow worms but so far no luck. Instead we've had voles, shrews and teeny weeny baby toadlets under there. That is, until today when I discovered this little beauty curled up asleep on the nest the voles have made......


Remember the Grass Snake eggs the dogs discovered in the compost heap earlier in the year? That was back in July and you can read about it HERE. Well, this little person is a baby Grass Snake and it is very likely that he came from that self-same batch of eggs which I rescued and reburied in the hope they'd be OK.

Grass Snakes are declining in the UK and it is reasonably unusual to see them, largely because they are so sensitive to ground tremours they are usually off long before you get close enough to spot them. I did see an adult this summer but it was dying, and last year of course we had the enormous but graceful Samantha Helvetica sunning herself in the veg patch over several days. I've never seen a baby before though. Not until this afternoon. They are BAP listed and protected by UK law which makes it an offence to kill or sell them.

I was extremely careful picking this little one up and in the end he didn't want to get off my hand (probably because it was warm) but he did show us the Famous Grass Snake Lunge, a feint that they do to warn off predators. They mimic a poisonous snake's lunge as if they are about to bite. As I put the camera closer he drew his head up and struck forward suddenly in a very convincing bite feint. Grass Snakes have no venom, so this is their main protection strategy. I've never seen it in the wild before as Samantha used to just turn tail and flee when she saw us, so I was most impressed that this baby used it.
Note the prominence of the yellow collar immediately behind his head- this instantly tells you this is a Grass Snake rather than a poisonous adder. I've not seen such a prominent collar before- the adults we get here are usually much paler. Isn't he sweet?




I am SO thrilled he is here and that the refugia is doing it's job of providing a safe haven for these dear little souls. Next to him (which made me smile, considering their relationship as adults is as predator and prey) was a tiny weeny baby toad.... I've seen quite a few of these in recent weeks under the refugia which is Good News.


Also out and about in the garden today....

Carder bee on Cornflower

Nettle Tap moth on Cosmos

And at last! The Blue Pimpernels sown this Spring have decided to flower

All in all a good day.

I'll leave you with a pic of the two doggy people who are tired after their various excursions (not to mention their bath). The moth box is out tonight so I should have some lovely autumn moths to share with you all this week.
 


Wishing you all a peaceful evening,

CT :o)

22 comments:

  1. I'm really excited about your new diet. I suffer so much with indigestion and like you only get packed off with pills and the ubiquitous Gaviscone, I don't like taking pills but sometimes really have to glug some Gav.
    So I shall be following your progress with interest. We are both gluten free most of the time as that really knocks me out. Its not easy but better than lying on the bed for the best part of the day feeling tired.
    Love the little snake and toad.
    Thanks so much for the wonderful photos, I love them.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Consuming certain types of wheat makes me very tired too. I did have some freshly baked wholemeal bread for lunch and my tum ached afterwards and I felt really sleepy, so I guess that's good evidence that I need to avoid it. This is at the trial and error stage until I work out what I can and can't tolerate, but it's really encouraging at the mo. It'll be the most enormous relief if this is the answer. I will keep you posted.

      Glad you liked the photos. I was over joyed to see the baby snake- lovely to think of our garden as a safe nursery for the next generation for a declining species. Hope you, the cats and Tom are all well xx

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  2. Lost the last comment to you!!! I see you had a good day at the seaside. Love the last shot of the dog and flowers, not so keen on the snake but look forward to seeing if the diet helps your health issues.

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    1. That's so annoying when that happens! Thank you for persevering with the comment. It was lovely to be beside the sea today- a perfect day for it. Hope all's well with you, Margaret xx

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  3. I am not a snake person - more squeamishness!! - but it is amazing to see this little fellow, so very tiny, more like a worm really at this stage. I remember the eggs, so how great that this one at least has hatched. Poppy and Teddy look very cute - and clean! xx

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    1. I don't think you're alone there Amy :o) My ma is not a snake person either. He was really thin and small- I've never seen such a tiny one before. Amazing to think they can reach up to 2m in length when adults. Pop and Ted are still clean this morning, but I fear it can't last! xx

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  4. I love the snake, it looks huge on the first photo & tiny on you hands. Nothing quite as exotic here such as grass snakes & baby toads but I do have several frogs. In the greenhouse for some reason! What is it with kids, I twitch each time my youngest goes near the edge of something & Mike knows it so encourages it.

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    1. I was so pleased to see him, hopefully there are more of them, just hidden away. Frogs and newts seem to be partial to greenhouses, presumably because they're warm places.

      Glad it's not just me squeamish about my lad leaping about on dangerous things. M says: oh, just let him be a boy, he'll be fine. Men don't seem to have the same nerves about accidents! xx

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  5. Lovely photo of the baby snake.. we had a baby one in our garden once, so small but perfectly formed. We also had a larger one swimming in our pond a few years ago, of course failed to get a photo.. typical !! Oh and the baby toad, so cute and the wonderful photo of the bee :o)

    I can't leave without saying how cute Ted and Poppy look :o) xx

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    1. They are hard to photograph, aren't they? I was quite surprised this one remained in the same place long enough :o)
      Ted and Pops say thank you very much- they appreciate the compliment :o) xx

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  6. I always enjoy your visit to Keyhaven it looks lovely in the October sunshine mixed in with the haze. Ted and Pops look so clean and cute after their bath! Sarah x

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    1. It's such a beautiful place and it really was glorious in the autumn sun. I don't expect the doggies will remain clean for long- they're going out for a long walk with their cousins later this week so are guaranteed to role in something foul! xx

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  7. What a wonderful creature to have in your garden. I am totally jealous! I've shown the pics to Olly. He was rather taken with them too.
    Leanne xx

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    1. He's still there- just seen him curled up in a small circle under the refugia. I'm hoping he knows not to hibernate under there as I'm sure it won't be warm enough. Glad Olly enjoyed the pics xx

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  8. A lovely post CT :) Wonderful to see the sea - our Dorset holiday seems a very long way away now :(

    Love the baby grass snake - the refugia is a great idea. Have thought about it once or twice here but the thought of rats taking it over has always put me off the idea.

    Glad to hear the new diet seems to be going well.

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    1. We've had no problems with rats near, on or in the refugia and we do have them in the garden so it's probably worth a try. I am so pleased the little snake is here- I've seen him every day since I found him, curled up under the covering. So sweet. :o)

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  9. What a beautiful, beautiful little snake! It even looks as though its wearing a golden necklace. Fascinating! xxx

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    1. I think so too. I know snakes aren't everyone's cup of tea but I'm so thrilled to have him in the garden and hope he stays safe. I'm popping over to have a read of your blog now- meant to do so sooner but the last couple of days have been a bit full! xx

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  10. That is so exciting CT, so have a snake in your garden and a baby at that! I would have been delighted too. Your trip out looked wonderful, it's so nice to be enjoying this good weather.

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    1. It is lovely to know he's there. He's taken up residence and I've been able to see him (briefly because I don't want to distress him) every day since. :o)

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  11. Looks like a lovely day out! So pleased about your baby grass snake - they are so cute! I also like the blue pimpernels - that's an amazing blue colour. I only know the weedy scarlet pimpernels.

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    1. It's a beautiful part of the world. Will be keeping an eye on the little snake until he hibernates- and then will be worrying about him over the winter! Am pleased the pimpernels flowered- had given up hope they would so it came as a surprise. A gorgeous colour, as you say :o)

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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