Welcome to the LDV NNR ringing blog, this blog is designed to share the experiences, findings and tales from a group of dedicated ringers. We specialise in conservation orientated research projects, largely focusing on wildfowl, waders, owls and birds of conservation concern, in and around the Vale of York NNR's.

NB - Whilst the purpose of this blog was initially designed to cover our nationally important wildfowl ringing activities, it now also features wildlife and work posts, explaining we how manage the NNR for both wildlife and people.

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Thursday, 17 March 2016

16/03/16 - Reptile emergence

This week has seen the emergence of our first reptile species of the year on Skipwith Common - due to the persistent rainfall earlier in the year we had been concerned about the flooding on the heath, which has left the ground saturated, so we headed down on Monday to attempt to pump some of the water off. Whilst setting the pump a quick walk around the heath resulted in finding a male and female Adder, pictured below – it was fantastic to see them and to know they haven’t been affected by the flooding. 

At this time of year, similar to Grass Snakes, Adders need to soak up the sun’s rays after a winter spent in hibernation. Following the long winter and months without feeding Adders need to warm up their bodies to build up their energy and strength, and to allow their muscles to work properly. Adders are Britain’s only poisonous snake, and have a sinister reputation due to their ability to subdue their prey using venom, however they are not a threat to people unless disturbed – upon seeing one make sure you observe from a distance, and please leave any records in the log books provided. 

As well as Adders, the first Grass Snakes and Common Lizards were also spotted around the bomb bay loop. Depending on the weather and temperatures, Grass Snakes usually emerge from hibernation in March/April, and will spend the first few days near the hibernaculum. After a winter spent hibernating they will then move away from the hibernaculum in search of food to help build up their energy and body fat. Like Adders, Grass Snakes obtain their body warmth from the environment in order to raise their body temperature. In comparison to Adders who don’t often seem to be disturbed by human presence, Grass Snakes are the opposite, being quite shy and wary, often slithering off quite quickly if they sense someone approaching. The individual pictured below was tucked in behind the old walls, however they can often be seen near the large patch of rose which can be found on the left hand side after passing through the kissing gate - as always please respect our wildlife and watch at a distance.

The warm sunshine also brought out four Common Lizards, this individual was literally 'hanging out' from a crack in the top of the wall to make sure its whole body was exposed to the sun. At this time of year after emerging from hibernation lizards can often be found basking in the sunshine with their bodies flattened like this to maximise the amount of heat they can soak up from the sun, the old walls around the bomb bay loop and boardwalk are an ideal place to look for them.   

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