Underside of a Mink: the colour is quite beautiful but the fur is rather oily in texture
Scots Pine and Birch trees dominate the entrance of Upper Picketts Wood
The woodlands are really alive with bird song at the moment, in particular Wrens, Robins, Goldfinches, Great Tits and Chaffinches. Great-spotted Woodpeckers were drumming and a Green Woodpecker was 'yaffling' in the distance. I regularly hear a Marsh Tit around the entrance to Goat Meadow and have occasionally seen a pair flitting around together. I really like its shrill 'pit-choo' calls, which can feel like a greeting, though in actuality is telling me 'where to go'.
I was sneaking a look under the reptile refugia around the meadow, when something which looked like a massive rubber snake draped over a branch caught my eye...
Refugia at the Grass Snake boulevard
A rubber snake
Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)
On to checking the hedgehog tracking tunnels, kindly lent by one of our Ecology volunteers George. We are hoping to get some indication of Hedgehog activity on our sites...
A Hedgehog tracking tunnel - corrugated plastic with an ink pad and pieces of plain paper at either end
They were baited with spam and tinned sweetcorn, as like some humans, most mammals don't seem to be that fussy! After just one night, all the food was gone and left behind were lots of little inky mammal tracks. Sadly no hedgehog prints yet, although it was probably a bit of a long shot.
These tiny tracks are most likely from Field Voles and Common Shrews
Male Andrena spp. As well as two large compound eyes, you can see the three ocelli (simple eyes) on the top of his head which assist with light detection and navigation
I was told it is probably the Small Sallow Mining-bee (Andrena praecox), one of the earlier species to be out and about. Male Andrenas can all look pretty similar so I would need to use an identification key to be sure, but as I am pretty tight for time, I let it go.
He was released on Blackthorn flowers, though it might have preferred a Willow catkin
Finally, under the reptile refugia I am also finding many of these little click beetles...
Elaterida is the Click Beetle family and consists of 73 species in the British Isles
At some point I will have a crack at using some invertebrate identification keys, but right now I am on a steep learning curve in terms of Airport and Aerodrome Ecology, so it is on the back burner!