Early this morning, myself, Kat and Carl headed to the coast to visit the coastal sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) population. Here we met with Paul Hudson who works closely with the population and has worked on a captive breeding programme for many years. I haven’t visited these lizards for several years as they can be extremely difficult to find. Things started slowly but after several hours, four male, one female and one juvenile sand lizard were found. The males are very bright green at this time of year in this population and the ones we saw were no exception!
On Thursday I decided to go to see the adders after work as the weather had been bad all day but then the sun came out. When I arrived I saw that two, possibly three had paired up with a female. In the end I saw two definite adder couples, one single large female and two more single adders. One pair began copulating while I was there, so I took a few photos and then left them alone. In the third image you can see the tails locked and at that point I left. What a smashing evening!
With nice conditions this morning I thought that I would have a quick check on the adders again since next weekend I am away on a course. I wasn’t expecting anything different from yesterday with the same three males being present but not having shed their skins. Upon arrival not only had all three males just sloughed their skins but a further three smaller males who had also sloughed their skins had joined them! Despite a number of visits this spring I had not seen any of these three “new” smaller males. I wonder where they came from all of a sudden? Perhaps being smaller snakes they did not spend any where near the amount of time basking as the larger males. Not that I was complaining and soon two of the males were courting and guarding a large orange female. Whereas another smaller female was basking all by herself far away from where the males had congregated.
Now the adders will be beginning their mating I cut down my visits considerably, not that any of the adders I saw today had any idea I was there in any case.
This morning I visited my local adders again and I was amazed that the males had still not sloughed their skins! Most people I know who visit different areas, have seen freshly sloughed male adders for weeks now, even at places much further north than where these adders live. All I can put it down to is the local climate here and the fact that there is cloud cover for the majority of the time these snakes are active. Two females were basking late on in the sunshine when the males had retreated.
UPDATED: After visits on the 8th and 11th April, two females have also joined the group of three males at one site. Although none of the males have sloughed their skin yet which means there won’t be any courtship behaviour for now. I have also created a “UK Adder diaries” page onto the blog.
ORIGINAL POST: Recently I visited two adders site, one which I mentioned previously which is suffering from high amounts of disturbance and another which is less well known fortunately. I have even received word recently from a colleague who says that a man offering an “adder photography workshop” was seen at the site with a cooler box. The idea being that adders are placed into the cooler box so that his participants can pose the snakes (once they are too cold to move properly) into any position they want. I am beginning to loathe certain sections of the wildlife photography circle due to this cruel and damaging way of conducting their business.
Despite this, six male adders were enjoying the sunshine and at the second location three regular males were doing the same.
After a visit to one of the few adder sites left in my local area on Saturday I made the following post on my Facebook page which I thought I would share here too.
I have since been informed that several of the three to four different photography groups have shared the location of these particular adders on their Facebook pages and websites. This is the single biggest contributor to the huge increase in adder disturbance.
I saw my first adders (Vipera berus) on the 19th February and then I saw some more today in more typical, warmer weather. Over the weekend I was busy moving common toads (Bufo bufo) at a regular crossing point in my village. If you want to help out with toad migrations, which without human intervention can lead to large percentages of a population being killed by cars, please see the following website: http://www.froglife.org/what-we-do/toads-on-roads/tormap/
Things have been quiet on the blog as the British winter confines me to the house most weekends as well as extra responsibilities undertaken in my current job role.
However, you can expect regular updates from my interest in herpetology further into 2017 with some very exciting plans head, one in particular may allow for my blog to be updated with interesting observations and photographs on an almost weekly basis. But more about that at a later date…
For now, I will be heading to Hungary next week for a birding trip with Carl Corbidge as it will be far too cold to see amphibians or reptiles. Perhaps in early summer I will go to my girlfriend’s homeland of Slovakia for a second visit and have some additional time to look for amphibians and reptiles after I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there last year. Click here to read my short trip report from Slovakia last year.
I’ve put a short report of our trip to the island of Epano Koufonissi last week. Being such a tiny island there are not many species present but we saw some nice things while there on holiday. Click here or the picture below.