Adders and Grass Snakes:
As noted, in my (overly excited) blog post, of April 7th, 2017 I have observed Adders on the land...at the time I wrote this:
Each time I come to UWNR I walk the land - I don't always follow the same route but generally I skirt the boundaries - this enables me to observe changes in flora and fauna. Today I walked the land, at about 13.30, in blazing spring sun and very light winds - the temperature on the gauge was reading 18 degrees C.
As I walked alongside the most sheltered, southerly facing, ancient raised hedgerow, I heard a rustling in the undergrowth. I stopped, stooped and there sleekly moving was a large (probably) female adder. WOW!! About 10 feet further down the hedgerow, to the west, another rustle and disturbance, but this time the probable reptile was too fleeting. The male adder?
Subsequently I have made contact with Gary Powell from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (https://www.arc-trust.org) - Gary visited UWNR on May 9th 2017 and his visit was enlightening.
Gary and I spent time searching the ancient, raised hedgerow bank for signs of the Adders. Gary reckoned we were too late - by May the adults have dispersed from their hibernaculum, seeking prey and mating partners.
Gary is going to visit UWNR in very early spring 2018, when the Adders have just emerged from their winter hibernaculum. So in late February - early March next year, we will be watching the forecast closely for the first calm warm days of late winter, very early spring.
Gary set me a couple of tasks to enhance the habitat for both Adders and Grass Snakes.
For the Adders I have cut small south facing glades into the ancient, south facing, raised hedgerow. This then enables the Adders to sunbath close to the security of the habitat they are familiar with. This photo shows an example small glade.
The other enhancement I have made is to distribute 18, 1.5 meter x 1.5 meter sheets of silver galvanised roofing material across the reserve. These have been carefully sited - south facing & backed into thick cover to enable reptiles to escape.
Two days before Gary visited UWNR, my friend Terence, spotted a small grass snake dashing into one of the dead hedges, which we have strewn across the land. Gary was surprised that grass snakes hadn't been seen before at the reserve and he suggested that with a lake swollen with toad tadpoles, conditions were ripe for more sightings. Again I hope, wait and observe.....
(More) Grass Snake evidence summer 2017....
In mid June we, Keggie and I, having done a day of work at UWNR, decided to cool off with a dip in the lake. As we walked to the pond edge we both spotted a grass snake slithering in and out of the pond weed, its distinctive yellow neck collar, showing very prominently. About a week later, I spotted (the same animal?) swimming across the pond its head poking out and a distinct small wake trailing behind it. These sightings were followed last week (the exact day was Tuesday 27th June) with is find:
On July 6th 2017, UWNR friend Richard Kerridge (author of the acclaimed Cold Blood about reptiles and amphibians), visited the reserve and luck was on his & our side. On his first walk, at around 18.00 with bright sun and a temperature of perhaps 25 degrees C, Richard both heard and saw the Adder. This exciting, additional sighting surely confirms their existence at UWNR.
Earlier in the day, with input from Gary Powell (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation), I used the grass cuttings from the rotational cut of the Barn Owl field to create a south facing pile, to enrich and enhance the habitat for both the Grass Snakes and the Adders. The grass pile is sited close to the lake and the raised bank where the Adders are seen.