Posts Tagged ‘Vipera berus’

Add(er)ictions?

April 24, 2016

Addiction is, according to an online dictionary definition, a medical condition that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviours.

So are those of us who expend countless hours searching out and observing the enigmatic Vipera berus thus afflicted?  Adderholics?

Locally, that is to say the Humberhead Levels supports a reasonable population of the reptile.  But with increased pressure from Open Access and engineered management works currently being undertaken on Thorne & Hatfield Moors the population is potentially at risk.

The Adder, the UK’s only venomous snake is a reptile favouring open predominantly dry habitats.  Heathland and commons, moorland, sea cliffs and chalk downland, open woodland and woodland rides, road and rail embankments  are also used.

The images above of a male adder show two key aspects, namely the dark rostal and its head pattern – a unique feature to all individual adders.  Images: H R Kirk.

Adder M&F GB mw - web

The image above shows the general colour difference between the male and female adder.  Note also the paler brown as opposed to dark rostal indicative of a male adder.  Image courtesy of Martin Warne.

The two images above show (left) a female adder approaching sloughing, indicated by the opaqueness of its eye and (right) a sloughed skin discarded amongst vegetation.  Images: Martin Warne (adder) & H R Kirk (sloughed skin). 

Examination of local historical data (pre 2000) and moderately recent data appears to indicate a decline in adder numbers.  As Thorne Moors particularly becomes wetter through the implementation of a Water Level Management Plan currently being delivered by Doncaster East IDB and Hatfield Moors is the focus for increased public access, what are the ‘new’ or ‘modern’ implications for this sensitive species?  What monitoring is being undertaken by either of the Public Bodies currently undertaking significant management works?

Nationally too there is concern about decline in adder populations, see abstracts from Herptofauna Workers Meeting 2013 via http://www.arc-trust.org/pdf/hwm2013-presentation-abstracts.pdf

The  photographs above were taken using  a zoom lens. The adders were not disturbed. The interests of the adders, a protected species must come first.

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

March 7, 2014

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.

140225 Thorne  SH 0053

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

130506 Adder DW

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.

130502 male Adder DW

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.


BIRDING SITE GUIDE - Birding Site Guide

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

Bird and other wildlife information service for Hatfield Moors, South Yorkshire, UK © HMBSG 17/11/2010

Mark Avery

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?