Way back in the mists of time, when men were men and small furry creatures were, well, lunch probably, words were proper words. None of this dodgy grammar stuff getting in the way! Sharing that world with us was a snake called a Nadder - corrupted into modern language to be an Adder of course, but that's education for you!
We spotted the first of the year last week, curled up in the sun
But this week, it was a chance to spend time along the Adder Trail looking for old friends. We found them in the form of Stranger and No-name, a couple of male adders spotted in previous years along the trail. Adders are generally loyal to their hibernaculum and this time of year won't venture very far away, coming out into the sun to boost their fertility ready for mating. You're not likely to see a female yet, they like a lay in
As you can see, they're pretty relaxed around each other at this time - they won't start any fighting until there's a pretty girl to fight over! Stranger, the paler of the two, is a bit smaller than No-name. Similar length but not so chunky
That flickering tongue picks up scent particles and transfers them to a Jacobson's organ in the roof of his mouth. As the tongue is forked, he can taste in stereo, telling direction & distance due to the differing amounts of scent particles on each fork
We're not too sure what colour No-name is going to end up when he sloughs (sheds his skin). He's much darker than Stranger - there's a slice of cake wager between me and Mrs WJ on what he will look like
They can shift when they want to as well - we've clocked one slithering at 4mph before now, which is a brisk walk for us, let alone a 2ft snake.
But for now, there's little rushing around, just peaceful sunbathing. Keep your eyes peeled in coming weeks, look into those sheltered, sunny spots near brambles or gorse bushes, you might just be able to spot a Nadder....
Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
My Flickr Photostream
Lot to learn
In reply to Nigel O:
Nigel O said:So, has anyone got a slice of cake going on No-name becoming a black adder??
Definitely not going to be black. We have black Adders (melanistic) around the reserve but No-name's going to be blue (I reckon) or a darker beige/gold (Mrs WJ). We also get charcoal grey ones, but he's not that colour either. It's extraordinary how much variation in colour you get in male Adders!
A few weeks have passed and I was back to check on the boys. Not too long now until the ladies appear I reckon - another couple of weeks perhaps. Before then, the boys will want to be looking at their finest, so I was hoping they may have shed their skins.
Fist to appear was Stranger, slithering out from cover to say hello
He's still got the milky eye that tells us he's coming up to sloughing - not long now probably. If we're really lucky he'll lose the skin in one piece and we can add it to our collection. The ones we managed to rescue a couple of years ago and use to show people are getting too delicate now to bounce around in the camera bag, so it would be nice to get a new one.
Curling up in the sunshine, Stranger looked very peaceful
Until No-Name came along of course. He's a bit bigger than Stranger and has a tendency to take over the best basking spot - by sitting on top of him! Poor Stranger, he even has a "Guurk!" look on his face!
Luckily, Karma affects even a venomous reptile and it wasn't long before No-Name found out this wasn't a good choice of basking spot - it's on top of an ant's nest & they were not amused. Not much will tolerate ants biting!
With no sloughing complete, the cake bet is as yet unresolved....
Nigel O said:Excellent additions. I hope it's a fresh cake or it will be stale by the time the bet is resolved :)
In reply to Whistling Joe:
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654