Hi, I'm Rudi, i'm 8 years old and my favourite book is 'Tarka the Otter' by Henry Williamson. Its about the life of an otter named Tarka and British Wildlife. One night i was reading the book with my dad and i said that i wanted to see all the animals in the book, he said i should do it and call it the Tarka Challenge. My Tarka Challenge started on 1st January 2012. The book contains 89 birds, 54 land based animals, 120 plants and 56 aquatic organisms.

The rules are simple, i must either see each thing myself or photograph it using my trail camera. I will try and see each thing on my local patch (Ogmore River Catchment) but may need to look somewhere else in Britain.

Parc Slip Reptile walk

We went to Parc Slip for a walk with Rose from the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales. We have been trying to see an Adder for a while now and quite a few people have said that they would try and help us.

The walk around the reserve was good and the sun even came up by the time we finished. Rose showed us 5 Grass Snakes, one of them was huge, this was the first time i had seen them alive (i saw a dead one last year).

We found an Adders skin, when adders are growing the old skin comes off, its called slough. We took some home and had a look at it under the microscope

Adder skin under the microscope.

We saw quite a few small mammals, a common shrew a water shrew and a Bank Vole. A vole is on the list so that was my first tick of the day.

We were nearly at the end of the walk and we still hadn't seen an adder then Rose spotted this

It was my first ever Adder and i was surprised by how big it was. It was sitting on a bank warming up in the sun.

Off the list -

Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus)
A small mammal with a blunt nose. Mostly active at night, eats buds fruits and seeds. Favourite food of birds of prey.

Adder (Vipera berus)
Also known as the viper. It is the only poisonous British snake. Its venom can cause swelling and fever but does not usually kill humans. If you get bitten by an adder you should go to hospital and maybe they will give you some anti venom. It sounds scary but adders are shy and try to keep away from people. They are active in night and day and like to eat voles, mice, lizards and frogs. One meal vole or mouse eaten by an adder means that it doesn't have to eat again for a week. It kills its prey with a bite from its fangs that inject venom. Baby adders are born live and once born they are independent, the mother doesn't look after them at all. Identification of an adder is by the black zig zag pattern down its back and a dark v shape on its head. Adders are cool.

After this we went to Rhoose point by Cardiff for a walk along the beach. We found some fossils in the cliff.

These fossils are Gryphea which are shellfish that used to live in the sea. They are also called devils toenails because they look a bit like a scabby toenail.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rudi- so glad we found that gorgeous adder. And how cool does the sloughed skin look under the microscope! See you back at Parc Slip soon. Rose