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UK Herps 2019

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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 17:02   #1
Farnboro John
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UK Herps 2019

My first Adder of the year today, no big surprise, I was champing at the bit at work looking at perfect weather for early basking.

The big surprise was, it was my first wild Black Adder, and am I chuffed!

John
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 17:11   #2
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Nice capture FJ. Not a colour I've seen.
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 18:10   #3
Farnboro John
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Nice capture FJ. Not a colour I've seen.
Thank you! I've looked for them in a couple of places where they are supposed to be, and not seen them. I've seen a lot of Adders down the years from conventional yellow and brown to nice black-and-silver males and some beautiful brick-orange ones, but this is the first time I've met the real black Adder. Definitely an encounter to remember.

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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 18:19   #4
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Well done John, cracking looking beast.
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 18:40   #5
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A real beauty, does anyone know the driver behind this colour variant?

Interesting that the upper jaw line is still pale.

Adders are common on my patch in Russia but I've only ever had one, fleeting glimpse of a melanistic one in eight years.
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Old Thursday 14th February 2019, 21:56   #6
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Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
My first Adder of the year today, no big surprise, I was champing at the bit at work looking at perfect weather for early basking.

The big surprise was, it was my first wild Black Adder, and am I chuffed!

John
Despite having apparently been in places where Adders are supposedly not uncommon in recent years - mainland Cornwall and Ardnamurchan - I've yet to see one at all well. In fact my only British sightings have been a couple of crap views in Norfolk, going back many years now. Any tips, John? I've had moderate success using corrugated iron sheets for Slow Worms and have been warned to watch out for Adders, but....

Would definitely be proud of photos like the ones you've presented
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 05:57   #7
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Despite having apparently been in places where Adders are supposedly not uncommon in recent years - mainland Cornwall and Ardnamurchan - I've yet to see one at all well. In fact my only British sightings have been a couple of crap views in Norfolk, going back many years now. Any tips, John? I've had moderate success using corrugated iron sheets for Slow Worms and have been warned to watch out for Adders, but....

Would definitely be proud of photos like the ones you've presented
I find mine as they sit on sandy trails in the sun, huge swathes of bracken or gorse in which they occur in the UK, will make them tougher to see and density will also be a factor, I see them almost every day with little effort. One observation, I very, very rarely see a male?

Here's a few shots ranging from the biggest I've seen (2nd pic, about 70cm), to the smallest which is in my shoe print.
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 08:31   #8
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Thanks, Andy. Any danger, or close calls with them? I'm fishing for a memory here: was it your hand I saw a picture of recently with an Adder bite?
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 13:08   #9
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Thanks, Andy. Any danger, or close calls with them? I'm fishing for a memory here: was it your hand I saw a picture of recently with an Adder bite?
Yep, that was me, stupidity on my part.

My wife called out snake, I saw a tiny brown thing as it dashed through the grass and thought it was a Slow Worm which would have been a new site record so I put my hand down to stop it getting away. I felt a sharp pain but because my mind was totally convinced it was a Slow Worm, it actually took a while to dawn on me that I'd been bitten by a snake.

I should have worked on the premise that as I'd never seen a Slow Worm here and Adders are common, that it was far more likely the latter, so don't put your hand out!

We actually carried on with our walk for ten minutes but the swelling gradually extended beyond my finger and when it got to my wrist and showed no sign of stopping there, we decided a visit to hospital was prudent. They put me on a drip and administered anti histamines while they decided if I needed the anti venom. They decided that my body was coping so decided against the anti venom which itself, can have some nasty side effects they told me?

I was shocked at how painful it was, the snake was tiny, c15cm but my entire arm swelled to the armpit and my lateral muscle felt like it had been kicked. I could not hold my arm down by my side for ten days as the blood rushing in to the already swollen tissues, caused unbearable pain. Don't listen to those who say that an Adder bite is nothing!
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 13:54   #10
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Wow! So even though you've seen loads, little ones could still be mistaken for slow worms! I know zilch about the biology of snakes - and most other non-avian creatures, come to think of it - so snakes all start off generically small and brown and lack adult markings, do they? How long, in general, do they take to become recognisable as adults? In other words, is there a sizeable population of non-obvious Adders that could be mistaken for something else floating - or slithering - about? I'm determined to get a proper look at an Adder this coming spring/summer, as I decamp to Mainland Cornwall again.
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 15:05   #11
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Wow! So even though you've seen loads, little ones could still be mistaken for slow worms! I know zilch about the biology of snakes - and most other non-avian creatures, come to think of it - so snakes all start off generically small and brown and lack adult markings, do they? How long, in general, do they take to become recognisable as adults? In other words, is there a sizeable population of non-obvious Adders that could be mistaken for something else floating - or slithering - about? I'm determined to get a proper look at an Adder this coming spring/summer, as I decamp to Mainland Cornwall again.
They are generally not easily mistaken for Slow Worms (I have a gift for ineptitude though) but really small, pale animals that give a poor view as they dash through undergrowth, are sometimes mistaken and it is given as a cause for bites in some literature.

Look at the small one in my shoe print, imagine a brief view of that, they don't slither all the time and can be surprisingly quick.
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 15:39   #12
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I take part in the New Forest Reptile surveys. Good fun. A lot of the license training involves health and safety with respect to Adders, ( Lyme disease, deep bogs, and stampeding horses being the other main risks).
I see plenty of Adders on the surveys, most are fairly calm encounters, probably a lot to do with the survey protocol.
I take no chances, resembling a bomb disposal expert when surveying! Our survey season hasn't started yet.

As well as Adder; Slow Worm, Common Lizard and Grass Snake are also fairly commonly seen. Haven't seen Sand Lizards on my survey squares yet. (Have seen them in Dorset).

Smooth Snake.. just the one for me so far:
https://pdjwildlife.blogspot.com/201...t-reptile.html

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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 15:40   #13
Farnboro John
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Originally Posted by Britseye View Post
Despite having apparently been in places where Adders are supposedly not uncommon in recent years - mainland Cornwall and Ardnamurchan - I've yet to see one at all well. In fact my only British sightings have been a couple of crap views in Norfolk, going back many years now. Any tips, John? I've had moderate success using corrugated iron sheets for Slow Worms and have been warned to watch out for Adders, but....

Would definitely be proud of photos like the ones you've presented
Near you I would suggest Porthgwarra, where I've seen two or three on occasions when I've been there in snaky weather (as opposed to howling gales for seawatching). Anywhere that looks like a nice little sun trap with cover easily available to nip into: south side of gorse or bramble bushes (or even a good solid bank of heather), base of drystone wall etc. Keep your shadow off them and preferably away from them, they have good eyesight. Move slowly and put your feet down softly, as clumping along is the quickest way to give yourself away to a snake. Which is why I usually make a point of it abroad....

Timing for basking is key. You want the snakes to have come out recently and be looking to stay for a while - easier in March/April/May, after that they get fired up quickly and don't bask much. (At the moment round us it isn't warm in the mornings, so I caught this black one basking about 1500 hrs and that's on a perfect south facing bank with nice sheltered crannies.) Practice still doesn't make perfect!

Given that Adders are decreasing and that they face both direct persecution and things like idiots translocating them from where they remain common to places where they have disappeared (this happened a few years ago in the Forest of Dean) I don't want to be specific about sites but PM me if you would like a site in some particular area (not guaranteeing I've got one handy for anywhere in particular, mind!). That goes for other regulars on here, but sorry, not newbies whom I don't know.

Cheers

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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 17:44   #14
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Thanks, John. I'll maybe give PG a go mid-April when I come off Scilly. Will keep an eye on the local BBC for some snaky weather...
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Old Friday 15th February 2019, 19:01   #15
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Near you I would suggest Porthgwarra, where I've seen two or three on occasions when I've been there in snaky weather (as opposed to howling gales for seawatching). Anywhere that looks like a nice little sun trap with cover easily available to nip into: south side of gorse or bramble bushes (or even a good solid bank of heather), base of drystone wall etc. Keep your shadow off them and preferably away from them, they have good eyesight. Move slowly and put your feet down softly, as clumping along is the quickest way to give yourself away to a snake. Which is why I usually make a point of it abroad....



John
Don't forget that it's a myth that Adders will just sit basking in hot sun, they seek shelter when the ground temp gets above (I think) 15-17c which I was surprised at when I read it. I certainly don't see them here in Russia when it's really warm.
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Old Monday 15th April 2019, 12:07   #16
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Up and running in the New Forest

First Reptile survey this year for me in the New Forest. My survey patch was tweaked to maximise the chances of a Smooth Snake in the area where I found a juvenile last year. This has paid dividends immediately, with an adult Smooth Snake found under one of the new refugia.

Views weren't great, as it was half buried under moss, under the refugia sheet, just emphasising how elusive this species can be. The pic, you can at least make out the keel-less scales. I didn't see it's head.

Also 7 Adders, which I think is the most I have ever encountered in a morning, 4-5 Slow Worms and a couple of Common Lizards.

Dartford Warbler, Willow Warbler and Woodlark present too.

My License only runs on the first half of each month, so I have to wait a couple of weeks now.
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Old Monday 15th April 2019, 12:30   #17
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Don't forget that it's a myth that Adders will just sit basking in hot sun, they seek shelter when the ground temp gets above (I think) 15-17c which I was surprised at when I read it. I certainly don't see them here in Russia when it's really warm.
Lovely shots, John. Only ever seen the one black adder and that was twitched a few years back. I see Mr Lowen had a nice one in Suffolk a few days ago (his first apparently, and he's a big adder fan).

Two years ago I saw two dancing male adders, a first for me. Having watched their behaviour for some time around a heather clump I'm convinced this behaviour is most likely when they're most active ie during the hotter part of the day when they're moving about (and most likely to encounter each other) rather than when basking. So though not the best time to see them generally, a perk of looking in the warmer afternoon hours is that you might witness this behaviour, particularly if there are a number of individuals hanging out in a small area.
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Old Monday 10th June 2019, 17:43   #18
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Another Adder, a female from my New Forest survey.
Since the first very successful survey this season, the going has been tough, with a couple of blank surveys in May during the hot spell. unfortunately, I'm restricted in the days I can survey, so can't always pick optimal weather.

June's survey, in overcast conditions, was better with Common Lizard, Slow Worm, Common Toad and Adder. Also a Nightjar
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Old Sunday 23rd June 2019, 10:06   #19
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After three summers of seeing tails dashing off into undergrowth and a couple of near-misses where the camera autofocus has gone for surrounding vegetation, was really pleased to finally get these handsome portraits yesterday. Friend of mine looked over my shoulder at the computer screen and said: "that one's pregnant!" I hadn't noticed. Is he right?
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