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Reptile Hunting

May 12, 2009
As the third week of our placement starts, we have been working on the design of our dipping platform, and also ventured out onto the heath, to see the array of reptiles and butterflies.  Here’s a little look at one of the critters we saw!
One of the many amazing reptiles out on Upton Heath

One of the many amazing reptiles out on Upton Heath


The start of the third week saw us venture out towards Swanage, to take a sneaky peek at the dipping platforms installed by Leeson House.  After becoming rather stuck for inspiration at the end of last week, Steve and Noel thought a little trip would do us some good, so we hit the road!  The dipping platform at Leeson was somewhat majestic and certainly captured our imagination and gave us some good ideas.  So we took the photos, analysed what had been done, got in the car and headed back to Corfe Mullen.

Inspirational dipping platform at Leeson House

Inspirational dipping platform at Leeson House

Back at Beacon Hill, we deliberated our thoughts, threw about some ideas, played with various bits of wood to see our ideas, put pen to paper and came up with a design that satisfied us for the moment.  Pleased with our work, the ever demanding DWT Team (Noel), threw in yet another obstacle to challenge us, demanding it was all done in 3D CAD, we are still hoping he was joking! – as if a cantilever dipping platform wasn’t enough!

With our minds sore and bellies full, Steve decided that we should venture out to hunt for some reptiles, for which the reserve is renown for.  We went down onto Upton Heaths Lizard Trail (route 2) and we’re pleasantly surprised to see the full array of reptiles within a few minutes.

Can you tell what it is yet?

Can you tell what it is yet?

As Steve led us along the path, all of us, except sharp-eyed Renuka, walked straight past this little fella, as he happily ambled about on the vegetation.  Steve explained that this was an adult male Sand Lizard, recognisable for its bright green mating colours.  They lay their eggs on the sandy verges of the path, prone to damage from walkers and other users, which is why the Sand Lizard is a highly protected species.

Further along we came across a Common Lizard which wasn’t quite as friendly as the Sand Lizard, and quickly dashed away from sight.  As we carried along the path we were stopped fairly quickly, this time not by a huge scream from Laura, which was rather unusual since an Adder was on the edge of the path.  Upon realisation of what this creature was, Laura huddled behind Renuka and myself (Pee) for safety, probably not the best idea since I don’t think either of us were too keen ourselves.

Just a tiny little snake, thats what we kept telling ourselves to stay calm!

Just a tiny little snake, thats what we kept telling ourselves to stay calm!

After admiring him, he eventually slithered off into the bushes and we carried on with our walk.  Over the shock of finally seeing an Adder, we carried on for about 5 metres when I let out a somewhat pathetic girly scream, yelling “What’s that, what’s that?”.  We think it’s probably best you just see what I saw and judge for yourselves……put your thoughts on the blog response!

Mysterious thing, but what was it?

Mysterious thing, but what was it?

Even as we write this, Pee is still trying to defend himself in shame 😦

We ambled along looking under some of the tins left out for reptiles and came across Smooth Snakes and Slow Worms, both of which we have found before but were good to see again, especially when the smooth snake just repeatidly tried to bite Steve which is bound to bring about some comic value (a licence is needed to lift tins, and handle snakes and protected species, so please don’t do it).

A smooth snake on Steves' hand (don't try this at home, they DO BITE)

A smooth snake on Steves' hand (don't try this at home, they DO BITE)

Finally we came across Green Hairstreak butterfly, Small Copper butterfly, Red Admiral butterfly and a Dartford Warbler (a bird) – but this means we have actually seen one….wohoooo!

Green Hairstreak butterfly, middle of picture

Green Hairstreak butterfly, middle of picture

Red Admiral butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly

So that was our day out on the heath, in the sun, reptile hunting.  This was the first time that all three of us have seen the majority of these species, and was really rewarding to have seen them so close and on our doorstep.

Keep your eyes peeled next time your out and about on the heath on a nice warm sunny day!

Pee, Renuka and Laura


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:43 pm

    Top blogging! Glad you enjoyed your afternoon, and I think Pee’s yelp will be remembered by all of us for years to come!! I won’t spoil the suspense by revealing what is was that made such an impact on him…
    I’m still to be convinced that you could pick out a Dartford in an ID parade – maybe we’ll try that test later this week!!

  2. May 13, 2009 7:58 pm

    Excellent blog post. Loved it. Made me won’t to go out on the heath right now (except it’s raining and it’s dark… so that would be pretty stupid!) I can’t make out what the picture is…. is it a pine-cone? or dog-poo? or something really scary???? 🙂

  3. Steve permalink
    May 16, 2009 8:52 pm

    Well spotted Jane. The unlikley cause of Pee’s distress was indeed a ‘mean looking’ pine cone!!

  4. May 17, 2009 9:34 pm

    They can be pretty scary!

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