After the gales of storm "Katie" had subsided on Easter Monday, we went for a walk through the woods around Heathfield. One wood in particular always produces early Bluebells and individual flowering plants could be counted in three figures. Wood Anemones were equally abundant. Not long now before we can glory in woodland floors carpeted in blue. In another corner of the wood the Early Purple Orchids are just starting to send up their spires.
This week has seen temperatures feel considerably milder than of late and Tuesday was a beautiful warm and sunny day. Carol and I decided to visit a favourite downland site in search of some early season butterflies fresh out of hibernation. We saw our first Brimstone of the year and several each of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock. Only the latter species allowed close approach.
Peacock (Inachis io)
Overnight air temperatures for Tuesday looked good enough for me to give my moth trap its first outing of the year in our Wealden garden. I have a Robinson trap which used to run a 125w mercury-vapour light but a few years ago the choke box "died" in a flash of flame and the stench of burnt plastic. I converted the trap to run a low wattage ultra-violet light and although it doesn't attract such high numbers of moths, it still attracts a good range of species. Unsurprisingly, the catch on Wednesday morning consisted of two of our most common early season species.
Hebrew Characters (Orthosia gothica) and a single Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)
Yesterday, the air temperature was still about 5 degrees with only intermittent sunshine to tempt out any snakes. I met up with Bob at a Wealden hot spot and we found 2 or 3 Adders basking in warm hollows in the dead bracken. Those ruby red eyes are mesmerising and you can also see the notch in the top lip where the tongue exits.
Although there was a cool nip in the air today, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky and it seemed to be a perfect day to go looking for early season reptiles; particularly snakes emerging from hibernation.
Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)
Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) and Adder (Vipera berus)