It is a pleasant change to report that Robin Page has written something in the Daily Telegraph with which I can whole-heartedly agree.

He writes in praise of Natural England's (and the Zoological Society's of London and Oxford University's) work on adders - our only venomous snake.  Robin discloses a personal nervousness about snakes which is touchingly open of him. 

Adders, or vipers, are apparently declining in numbers with only 100,000 estimated to be left.  Habitat fragmentation and intensive agriculture are leading to the isolation of some populations and that may lead, in turn, to inbreeding.  Their problems, though different in detail, exemplify the needs of many species which were summarised in the Lawton report published last year.  That report called for more, bigger, better managed and more joined up protected areas and if we had more, bigger, better managed and more joined up heathland habitat pockets then the population level of the adder would add up to a bigger number. Let's see what the long-awaited, much-heralded and vitally important Natural Environment White Paper says on the subject of habitat re-creation and restoration at a landscape scale.

A former RSPB boss, the late Ian Prestt, studied adders in his youth.  I remember talking to him about his work, which he spoke about with relish.

Robin Page points out that the presence of adders indicates a healthy countryside because this predator relies on the presence of a variety of prey such as young birds, voles, frogs and lizards to survive.  If the adder is in trouble then it indicates that the rest of nature is too.  How true.  I look forward to further articles from Robin in praise of the sparrowhawk and the white-tailed eagle.





  • Gert - its great to see them along the rides in Wyre, beautiful - and, of course, just like BOP they can't eat more than is there - so just the same, indicators of quality habitat.

    Old countrymen sometimes had good reason not to like adders - and its also an indication of just how much wildlife we've lost over the years - they swarmed on the white (grass) hills in Northumberland when the Forestry Commission was planting and were an especial problem for men weeding with short handled sickles. A forester I knew when I first started forgot one of the cardinal rules - tuck your trousers into your socks - and an adder he trod on shot up and bit him in the calf. Iasked him how much it hurt and he said he didn't know - in panic he'd hit it with the wrong - sharp side of hsi weeding hook, razor sharp - it was a disciplinary offence not to keep it shrap - and he bled so much all the poison was washed out !

  • Jockeyshield

    I do not think it is helpful to widen the discussion to Eastern Europe where the situation is not quite the same?  I also think a strong word like mass is unhelpful and might be an exaggeration?  

    It is interesting that you suggest it is 'educated people get sick to death ... prey'.

    Yet they are not that educated that they consider it worthwhile to come to the table to understand why some birds of prey in some circumstances are a problem in a managed countryside.

    We will not address these differences through wars of words; we will achieve more with sensible discussion.

  • How fortunate we are then, here on the North Kent Marshes, to have adders present. We sometimes catch a glimpse of them basking in the sunshine at RSPB Cliffe Pools. Let's hope that the Natural Environment White Paper makes it possible for these and other species to thrive.

    Friends of the North Kent Marshes

  • Won't be long now until Adders come out of hibernation - here in Worcestershire I see them in the Wyre Forest on sunny banks and they are a sight to behold. I think there is a good population in the Wyre Forest, which is probably bad news for the Lizards and small mammals they feed on - You pays y'money - but thank goodness that nature has a way of regulating itself - I think it's called a food chain..

  • Hi Nyati

    Snake in the grass?

    The headline says more about the author of this blog than it does about Mr Page !!