Adders out and about

The warm weather brought out a fair few insects this afternoon, I saw a red admiral and a small tortoiseshell butterflies in the northern part of the reserve. I also saw 4 adders and managed to get photographs of 2 of them. The first 2 were basking in an area the reserve volunteers cleared of willow trees just a few weeks ago. Seems strange to see an adder basking amongst reeds and willow trees but the ground is quite dry and has plenty of tussocks. I even saw a vole, which is what the adders will be waiting for, although amazingly they don’t feed until after they’ve mated in April. 

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Spot the adder

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I’m fairly certain this individual is a male, they usually shed their skin a few weeks after emerging from hibernation and will be a much more silvery grey colour once the old skin is gone. Females are more of a bronze-brown colour, and are pretty dark when they first appear in spring. 

For comparison here is a female adder I photographed in Warsash this time last year:

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Female adder, Warsash, March 2013

I also managed a poorer shot of another male adder, it was basking coiled up with a female, which disappeared before I could get my camera ready.

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And if you are worried about venomous adders attacking on the reserve you have absolutely nothing to worry about, they are very shy and would much rather get out of the way than be anywhere near you. Adder bites on humans are caused either by people picking them up or stepping on them with bare feet. In fact adders don’t bite much at all, when fully grown they eat about 9 small mammals (voles or mice) or lizards a year. 

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