A blackbird piped up from a garden in the village yesterday afternoon. He wasn’t fully tuned, but it was still a sound to make me stop and smile.

He’s quiet today, possibly because he’s heard the weekend weather forecast…..

With a cold spell promised, I took the opportunity to pop down to my local patch to check for reptiles. I would normally have expected to have made an adder’s aquaintance there by mid-February, but this was my first visit of the year.

It is unfortunate, and more than a little sad, but having been left feeling poorly by countless tick bites, I no longer hold the same affection for the place as I once did. In fact, I’ve already been elsewhere to get IMG_7287 (2)my first adder fix of 2018….

I only had an hour or so, but hoped that a couple of favoured hibernacula haunts might be occupied.

With subtle changes to growth (and occasional (and less subtle) land management operations), it is rare that the exact same spot is used for more than a couple of winters . Nevertheless, the adders still seem to remain close to the locations that have seen them safe through winters past, as was proved this afternoon.

I found two snakes, both of which were too quick for the camera. I recognised the first of the two though – a true sun-lover – and knew that within ten minutes or so she would be back out. She didn’t disappoint, and a stealthy approach allowed me within a foot or two IMG_7294 (2)of her.

I put up five snipe that were holed up beside another traditional haunt, and made a note to leave them in peace until the spring.

I also sent a couple of common lizards scuttling, before finding a third tucked up in a tussock of dried grass. This one trusted to camouflage rather than speed, but never dropped his gaze away from my own.

There is an interesting contrast between the two species. The adder watched for general movement but was more reliant on the flick of her tongue as she ‘tasted’ for danger, whereas the lizard watched my eyes and face, his only movement coming from the blinking of the eye.

It was nice to withdraw quietly from each and let them enjoy the sunshine. They’ll be feeling the cold come Saturday….


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