A visit to South Yorkshire!

On Friday I went over to visit Carl in South Yorkshire with the aim of combining herping with some birding. In fact birds turned out to be the highlight of the visit rather than amphibians and reptiles. In the late afternoon we visited a cathedral where a pair of Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) reside, they were both present and we even saw them mating, as well as the male bringing back a killed Starling. After this nice stop Carl took me to an area where he had recently seen a Little owl (Athene noctua), the owl was there again and by slowly pulling up the car alongside we were able to watch and photograph it. After dark it was time for some herps, although the first thing we saw was a Badger (Meles meles) running along the side of the country road. We wanting to inspect some man made ponds on agricultural land, and the first one delivered around half a dozen Smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris), on the way to a second pond we crossed paths with several Common toads (Bufo bufo) and at the pond itself we saw a single male Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus). At a third pond we came across about 20 dead Common frogs (Rana temporaria) which probably died from a sudden frost as the area we were was quite high and cool.  Thankfully some frogs were alive as well as some toads, two Great crested and a few Smooth newts.

Mating Peregrines (C) Matt Wilson

Male Peregrine with kill (C) Matt Wilson

Male Peregrine with killed Starling (C) Matt Wilson

Little owl (Athene noctua) (C) Matt Wilson

Little owl (Athene noctua) (C) Matt Wilson

Curlew (C) Matt Wilson

Common toad (Bufo bufo) (C) Matt Wilson

Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) as seen 'in situ' (C) Matt Wilson

Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) as seen 'in situ' (C) Matt Wilson

Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) (C) Matt Wilson

The next day it was foggy until around 12pm, first we visited a potential new Adder site, no snakes but we found a single male Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara). After this we visited a Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) site and under some pieces of tin we found a male and a female specimen, this was the earliest Carl had seen them in his area. With the weather improving we dedicated some hours to searching for Grass snakes (Natrix natrix) without any success, but in doing saw we crossed paths with some Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and a few Buzzards (Buteo buteo).

Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara) (C) Matt Wilson

Red grouse (Lagopus lagopus) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (C) Matt Wilson

6 Comments on “A visit to South Yorkshire!

  1. Cheers Adam. Slow worms aren’t usually out until April up north, but this very warm weather has tempted some out.


  2. Yes the bullshit adder workshops… back in 2001 I led such a workshop and it soon became very apparent that 2 of the 6 participants where intending to return under their own steam such are the types who generally claim to be at one with nature…. I would estimate that 95% of so-called nature/wildlife photographers in Britain are absolutely clueless when it comes to their subjects welfare….. I have even caught 2 pro photographers PAUL HOBSON & DANNY GREEN stealing adders from a Derbyshire location for a workshop they were conducting in Bradgate Park – Peak Ecology armed with snake hooks and the Peak District NP Authority are no better….. having advised in Head Ecologist in 1999 that burning of sections of the moor would certainly result in adder fatalities they totally ignored me an went ahead and burnt alive countless viviparous lizards and 37 adders which I subsequently put in a bag and drop off at their HQ in Bakewell, if I was non too impressed they most certainly were not when I turned up.

    On a lighter note saw 3 snub-nosed adders today in Sierra de las Nieves, Andalucia, Spain close to where I live.

    Great blog

    Regards, Geoff


  3. Hi Geoff,
    Your experiences are exactly the type of thing which is happening all the time now. Too many people are being handed good locations for these animals and although they may be trustworthy they often pass them onto people who are not. I’m fed up of seeing more and more people out looking at the adders everywhere I go (these adders aren’t from Derbyshire by the way).
    I’m envious of your findings in Spain, I’ve only ever found the viper once in southern Spain in la Sierra Norte de Sevilla. Rare snake in Andalucia now.
    Hopefully I’ll be back out there again soon, was only there in the Winter last year doing amphibian work.


  4. Hi Matt

    Yes a rare find indeed it’s taken me 3-years to find a small colony I can protect, monitor and keep secret….. busy making a video of them and the walk up the mountain is supposed to keep me fit though of late feels like it’s going to kill me….. it’s only mid-April and its 32c today in the mountains by 10.30 a.m. Next time in Andalucia give me a shout…….

    Regards, Geoff


  5. Hi Geoff,
    I remember when I lived in Spain and only 10 minutes out of the city I was in the habitat for Mediterranean chameleons, 7 species of snake, a dozen species of lizard, griffon vultures etc.
    The more work I do with adders here the more I realise just how crap a number of organisations are in dealing with their welfare. I’m not speaking of amphibian and reptile groups now but more general wildlife superpower organisations who are seemingly doing their best to share adder locations with every amateur wildlife photographer and would-be naturalist out there. Not to mention sharing sensitive locations on the internet in what I see as complete naivety. Thankfully there does seem to be a good number of people who protest on behalf of adders and tell these people what they should really being doing to protect wildlife. It seems reptiles are becoming as political a topic as birds of prey are…
    All the best,


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