June 2017 - Grass Snake Sightings

 

 

Besides the cuckoo which is around again this year, delighting everyone who hears it, there have been certain other nature sightings I would like to share.

Grass snake sightings are fairly common in Bawburgh. The first we saw this year was in our back garden, off the Marlingford Road. That was the good thing. The bad thing was that it was dead!  I had gone round the garden that morning, and there had been no grass snake, then at about 2.00pm - there it was, a fully grown specimen dead on the lawn. Whatever had attacked it had gone for the head. The body hadn't a scratch on it. That ruled out our dog. He would have just pounded it to death. Neighbour's dog? Possibly. But how did the snake get to the middle of our lawn? A stoat or weasel? Possibly. We have seen them all in the garden, but not this year, but they would definitely go for the head. Hedgehog? Unlikely. Hedgehogs will kill baby snakes for food, but they are nocturnal and this snake was fully grown. Birds of prey e.g. sparrow hawk? Unlikely. I would have thought that the body would  have been damaged by talons; and if the bird had dropped it, why my back garden on the grass, and why wasn't the bird feeding on it?  Heron? Possibly. Grass snakes will be eaten by herons, but this one was a bit large. Could have been dropped, but why was the head and not body so damaged. A crow family member? Unlikely. They would definitely go for the head, and take out the eyes, but the head looked chewed. Cat? Unlikely. We don't have cats in our garden during the day because of our dog. Any thoughts from Bawburgh News Readers on solving this mystery?

My next encounter with a snake occurred off Blue Bell road, by the River Yare. It was a lovely warm afternoon. I suddenly heard a myriad of squeals, and a thrashing about in the undergrowth. I waited patiently and then saw a grass snake, about 2 foot long,  grasping a still living field vole, bottom first. (At least I think it was a vole, it was a bit hard to determine when the snake was thrashing around with half of the rodent in its mouth). This was nature in the raw. Grass snakes have to eat.

I am pleased to report that a nest of baby dunnocks actually managed to fledge in our garden this year. There were 3 or 4 in the nest. (I didn't like to get too close in case I disturbed them). The babies were so quiet in the nest, unlike blue or great tit babies which are constantly twittering as they wait for their meals.   

Do look out for the yellow Brimstone and the Orange Tip butterflies which are flying at the moment. These at least don't seem to have decreased in numbers round here.

 

 

lingibson@bawburghvillage.co.uk

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