The signs are ‘Add'(er)ing up to Spring’s arrival?

It’s beginning to feel that winter flew with that magical ‘Skydancer’ on 15 February, I do so hope that he finds a mate and is successful in his endeavours to breed.  Last year, 2013 saw only two pairs of Hen Harriers attempt to breed in England but sadly both failed, and we reckon to be a nation who loves and values its wildlife?

So, spring is here?  It must be, the adders are out of hibernation and being seen in moderate numbers.  The first males were seen on Hatfield Moors on 18 February and on Thorne Moors the following day where up to 15 males have been recorded basking.

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The image above, taken by Steve Hiner on 25 February this year shows four basking together.

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Female (above), in breeding condition (2013).

Adders (Vipera berus) are the UKs only venomous species of snake and they are also viviperous (give birth to live young).  Treated with respect and caution they are not dangerous.  Typically, in the breeding season the males have black markings against an off-white background with a steel grey underside.  The females have dark brown markings against a light brown or straw coloured background with a dull underside .  Having said that, both sexes are very variable and melanistic specimens are known from Thorne and Hatfield Moors.

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Male in breeding ‘colours’ (2013).

The image shows the flattening of the body which creates a greater surface area to receive the warmth of the sun.  One magical piece of behaviour to witness is the ‘Dance of the Adders’, this ritualised combat is designed to impress and attract a female.

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A young adder sloughing its skin as it continues to grow (2013).  

Image: Steve Hiner.

Please do pass all reptile and amphibian sightings with details to us, the data all helps us to understand the habitat preference and utilisation patterns through the season across both sites.  For more information on local groups who actively promote the study and conservation of these special creatures, see ARG UK.

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