Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Adders and Blackcaps holding territory in our Suffolk backyard

18 April, 2011 - 13:00 -- John Burton

The Adder didn' t slither away, but posed territorally to enable WLT staff to take this photo.  

Last weekend saw some glorious spring weather and most of the WLT staff were out and about enjoying it.

One of the reasons World Land Trust (WLT) is based in Halesworth is that over 30 years ago I used to visit the area at weekends to go birdwatching, as it is one of the best areas in the whole of Britain for birds and other wildlife.  Last weekend the blossom on the blackthorn was falling (the myrobalan blossom dropped a couple of weeks ago) and the bird cherry was in full bloom, and attracting lots of birds. Great tits and blues tits are often seen foraging in the blossom, and they were joined by blackcaps. (What are they foraging for? Insects certainly, but are they also taking nectar? It seems very likely).

This year there seems to be a super-abundance of blackcaps, and that means lots of gorgeous song. Most birds sing competitively, so when populations increase the males spend a lot of time defending their territories and that means a lot of song. Conversely, of course, when numbers decline, they become less vocal and so become harder to detect.

Another example of territoriality was seen this weekend by WLT Staff members Claire and Charlotte when they went for a walk in Walberswick National Nature Reserve. They spotted an Adder, which at this time of the year are often seen basking. Invariably adders return to the same spot year after year, as soon as they emerge from hibernation and Claire managed to take a very nice photo of it basking.

Look out for more UK Wildlife at the World Land Trust's UK Reserve in Kites Hill, Gloucestershire.


Submitted by Sharon on

Great picture, was watching BBC Breakfast this morning reporting that adders are in decline. Also think I saw a Black Cap in my garden at the weekend albeit very briefly. (Beetley Norfolk)

Submitted by Robert Burton on

About 20 years ago, I conducted a small survey through my sadly defunct Daily Telegraph Nature Notes. Readers reported blackcaps eating the stamens of mahonia flowers, but blue tits were taking nectar of these and other flowers. You can get blue tits to visit sugar-water dispensers (They don’t come to the same dispenser if it has neat water.)

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