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Snakes and Skulls

July 10, 2009

The continued adventures of Dylan Rachael and Steve!

Today we trekked down to the ravenous reptile reserve of Upton Heath. We went to seek out the 6 varieties of reptiles … one of which was poisonous.

The smooth snake

The smooth snake

 click to read more about our adventure!

At ten o’clock prompt our teacher arrived, our overseer, Mrs Downy, who was here to check out our progress. We offered for her to come along on our adventure, however with a well suppressed shriek and a  quick apology, she rushed through numerous reasons why she could not come along, and ran out of the door.  The last we saw of her was as her car sped down the lane!.

We set off in great spirits, looking forward to seeing lots of reptiles..It was hopeless as after walking for what seemed like miles, lid after lid we lifted we gained nothing in return. The sight that we had so longed to see, came at a surprising time, just as we were about to give up, we spotted a baby slow worm, measuring at 10cm. It wasn’t in the same league as a poisonous adder, Dylan was dying to see.

baby slow worm

baby slow worm

Along our adventure we encountered the rare and equally beautiful, silver studded blue butterfly, which was a coincidence as we had spent the whole of Wednesday searching for them, for surveying purposes obviously. 

the radiant silver studded blue butterfly bathed in the Suns glow

the radiant silver studded blue butterfly bathed in the Suns glow

As frustration mounted, we sent forward Steve our knight in shining armour, with his chosen weapon, his trusty stick. All of a sudden he jumped into the gorse, as we managed to catch a glimpse of a fiery orange marked adder!

As we cautiously approached the next tin, we lifted it with the up most suspense and curiosity. The pungent and acrid fumes, set our sense ablaze. Steve, spotting elustrious grass snake with his hawk eye vision, lunged for it.. He wrestled furiously after a tense 2 seconds he brought the situation under control.

steve using his cat like reflexes, pounces on the evasive grass snake

steve using his cat like reflexes, pounces on the evasive grass snake

The grass snake had wierd, blue eyes!  Steve explained that it would soon be shedding its skin, so that it could carry on growing even bigger, and the scale over the eyes gets all cloudy before that happens.   Steve said it wasn’t a full grown snake, but is was still 67 cms so seemed pretty big to us!

The grass snakes mysterious eyes!

The grass snakes mysterious eyes!

A couple of tins later we were met with a huge smooth snake, epic in scale, it measured in at 42cm. The opportunity of a life time arrived as we studied the monstrous but equally tranquil looking creature. We examined it’s features identifying it as a male. Dylan accepted the challenge and opportunity of releasing the king of snakes back into it’s natural habitat. He stared the creature in the eye and didn’t take his eyes off of the snake. Apprehensively he let the snake go as Rachael giggled at the fear in Dylan’s eyes.

the apphrehesion in Dylan's eyes as the snake met his gaze

The fear in Dylan's eyes as the snake met his gaze

The next task for us was dissecting two owl pellets each, we faced the challenge with apprehension but curiosity. We started off, pulling apart the pellets, not knowing what we were going to find. Steve warned us that there may be maggots, so Rachael readily told him that there may be a scream!

Rachael putting on a brave face knowing it would all end in tears

Rachael putting on a brave face knowing it would all end in tears

As we both got our nails into the pellets, we discovered the barns owls cuisine; for Dylan 1 bank vole, 3 wood mice and two beetles, for Rachael 6 beetles, 1 bank vole, 2  field voles and 1 rat , to her disgust, also both receiving twitching noses and a mountain of fur. The owls cuisine is totally not for us, however routing round in the pellets is like a lucky dip with a twist.

The range of skulls found within the pellets

The range of skulls found within the pelletsThe mound of regurgitated fur/hair/who knows?

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