Another fragmented adder population holds on

Within my local area human activity over the past few centuries has resulted in the vast majority of adder populations being lost due to habitat destruction, management of moorland for grouse hunting through burning, gamekeeper paranoia or through the fluctuations in predator populations, most notably the common buzzard (Buteo buteo). The latter has flourished in recent decades and although a delight to see commonly in the skies once more they do take a large number of adders as prey, especially when feeding their chicks and the large numbers of buzzards back in our skies is bad news for some of our fragmented adder populations up north.

However, I try hard to find areas where adders are still hanging on, sometimes they are down to the last few adult individuals. Myself, Carl and Katarína visited a population that I had not visited before and as far as I am aware they have not been monitored for several decades. Despite the usual problems faced by adders at most sites such as too many walkers nearby with dogs, being close to a road and the inevitable buzzard nest in the adjacent woodland this site was quite nice. In the end we only came across one female and the sloughs of two males but the recent hot weather could have contributed to this and there are surely more specimens there to be found.

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Adder predator: common buzzard (Buteo buteo) (C) Matt Wilson

Common buzzard (Buteo buteo) now more common than it has been in Britain for a very long time but at what cost to adders who are no longer as common as they were the last time buzzards dominated our skies? (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson

Slow worm Saturday

I haven’t seen any slow worms (Anguis fragilis) so far this year and I had the best opportunity at a lowland site which is well managed and surveyed for this secretive reptile. Turning mats and pieces of tin put down for the lizards we found a total of 15 adults as well as a few common lizards. Many thanks to Mark Cozens once again for his expert guidance at the site. On Friday I also visited one of my adder (Vipera berus) site with two large females and two small males out and about as well as lots of day active common toads (Bufo bufo) migrating to their breeding ponds.

Back home and the male Tawny owl was calling to his female whose eggs should be close to hatching by now, this gave me the opportunity to go out and get some photos of the male as he was calling sat in a tree.

Greek island trip report will appear soon….

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

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Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) (C) Matt Wilson

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Female adder (Vipera berus) (C) Matt Wilson

Male Tawny owl (Strix aluco) (C) Matt Wilson

Male Tawny owl (Strix aluco) (C) Matt Wilson

Male Tawny owl (Strix aluco) (C) Matt Wilson

Male Tawny owl (Strix aluco) (C) Matt Wilson

Male Tawny owl (Strix aluco) (C) Matt Wilson

Male Tawny owl (Strix aluco) (C) Matt Wilson

Little (Athene noctua) (C) Matt Wilson

Male little owl (Athene noctua) (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson

Kos and Kalymnos trip report in prep

Trip report from our trip to the Greek islands of Kos and Kalymnos will be online shortly. Greece has had quite a severe winter with lots of cold and wet weather which made this trip quite difficult with many days of less than ideal conditions. That being said a modest 17 species of amphibians and reptiles and 81 species of bird were found during the trip. Smashing!

Carl with the black beauty (C) Matt Wilson

Carl with the black beauty (C) Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson

Hot spring day with a good adder count

The day before I flew to Kos, Carl and I decided to visit a site for adders (Vipera berus) which we had visited previously in 2014. It was rather a hot day so we started early. First up was my first Grass snake (Natrix natrix) of 2015, soon followed by 24 male and 1 female adder. In addition a couple of common lizards (Zootoca vivipara) were crawling in the grass.

Back home after my Greece trip, common toads (Bufo bufo) were breeding away with many moving by daytime.

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By Matt Wilson