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Adder numbers declining - Buzzards & Pheasants partly to blame? (1 Viewer)

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Tough one to do research on, not sure about Buzzards but I can certainly see Pheasants as a potential threat, both feet and bill potentially lethal and kick-boxing skills well known.

Obviously a keeper is going to blame a raptor, but the Shooting Times sounds more balanced than I expected.

John
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
Tough one to do research on, not sure about Buzzards but I can certainly see Pheasants as a potential threat, both feet and bill potentially lethal and kick-boxing skills well known.

Obviously a keeper is going to blame a raptor, but the Shooting Times sounds more balanced than I expected.

John
I was at a local reserve a week or so ago and there was a rat having a meal under the feeders. A chaffinch was feeding a couple of feet from it and they were both just getting on with it.

A hen pheasant came onto the scene from some bushes and walked across the clear ground towards that feeder. The rat looked up, looked up again and beat a hasty retreat to cover as the pheasant got closer.

There was no sign of threat or aggression from the pheasant, but the rat obviously knew its birds.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
Back on adders, here are two from a couple of weeks ago, enjoying the mid-morning sun.
 

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Biancone

to err is human
Back on adders, here are two from a couple of weeks ago, enjoying the mid-morning sun.

Nice images. For me, vipers (any vipers) come close second to raptors; Vipera aspis used to be abundant in my patch in Italy but are now rarely seen. The locals blame this apparent decline (is it a real decline or have they changed their behaviour?) on the increasing Wild Boar numbers. Back to topic: I'm pretty sure I recall field observations that pheasants can take numbers of newborn and very young adders. I'd be confident a boar could polish off any size viper it found.
Brian
 

kevparr

Well-known member
The adder, as with so many species, suffers most from lack of habitat, and Man must surely be the main culprit behind its decline.

Buzzards will take adders but not in any significant number, whereas the link between pheasants and adders has been long made. It is suggested that it is within the pheasant's natural instinct (presumably from an evolution on the Indian sub-continent) to attack and eat snakes. Certainly the amount of pheasants released each year (I heard 40 million quoted recently) could have a significant impact on all manner of fauna.

I personally love the adder. But fear that similarly to the freshwater eel it is suffered from its longevity. Small, isolated populations are disappearing after damage done many decades ago. We squeeze them into pockets with housing, roads and industry and though individuals survive for a time, there are no fresh genes and no long term prospects.

I will add a snap from yesterday to those already shared....
 

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locustella

Well-known member
It is suggested that it is within the pheasant's natural extinct (presumably from an evolution on the Indian sub-continent) to attack and eat snakes. Certainly the amount of pheasants released each year
Yes, pheasant + climate colder than in India may be too much for snakes. But snakes decline worldwide.

Adders are ectotermic animals. This is monothematic but maybe for example there is inappropriate temperature or high moisture increasing thermal conductivity of the atmosphere. Including hibernation period. However so far only this winter is strangely warm and only in Europe.

Or maybe something is poisoning their prey. Like "Second Generation Anti-coagulant Rodenticides".

Or they don't have place to live because of habitat transformation by people.

Or an alien species eats their eggs.

In the area where I live snakes and lizards are usually very timid. And they have primitive brains, perhaps can't accustom to human intruders. They are probably almost like machines with genetically determined behavior, almost unable to learn. So perhaps fear can disable their normal behavior, because they flee instantly and are not able to understand anything, adapt to new situation.

Or maybe this is the same reason that caused unexplained extinction of dinosaurs, what would suggest, that something is going wrong very seriously !!

Theoretically many factors could be the cause of snakes decline, this needs research in the field.

Buzzard have always coexisted with snakes. This is about Homo sapiens.
 
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Simon Wates

Well-known member
I think the posts by kevparr and locustella hit the nail firmly on the head - thanks to both.

I agree - I'm always suspicious when natural predators are blamed for decline of prey species - it just doesn't work like that. Man's activities has got to be the problem. Agro chemicals and other pollutants seem the most plausible cause of decline of Lataste's Viper down here in Portugal as there is still plenty of habitat.
 

Biancone

to err is human
I agree - I'm always suspicious when natural predators are blamed for decline of prey species - it just doesn't work like that. Man's activities has got to be the problem. Agro chemicals and other pollutants seem the most plausible cause of decline of Lataste's Viper down here in Portugal as there is still plenty of habitat.

Tend to agree in general, but in the part of Italy I have some long-term experience of, Asp Viper decline seems to result from a combination of natural predators and human influence. In this instance, the natural predator (Wild Boar) has increased markedly following the slow decline of pastoralism at higher elevations (ie. a lack of direct human influence!!). With the decline of grazing, the tree cover has expanded from the hilltops down the valley sides. Seems that once there is some critical area of woodland available, the boar population really takes off (also deer, and even a few wolves passing through). So everything is better for most woodland vertebrates, but not so good for those 'edgy' creatures, like vipers, that prefer more mixed habitat patches.
Brian
 
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