Tuesday, 18 March 2014

In Search of an Adder

26th February 2014

I haven't seen many Adders because, despite what you hear from dog walkers saying that their dog has been bitten by an Adder, Adders have NEVER been recorded or photographed in Hertfordshire. Every record that has been followed up has either been unproven or a Grass Snake. I suspect that this is because Adders are known to have a "V" on the back of their neck, but so do Grass Snakes. Anyway, with Adders in mind I set off to Cudmore Grove Country Park at East Mersea.

As I walked down the path to the hide, spring was in the air with the singing of a Dunnock in some adjacent brambles. In my opinion, Dunnocks are grossly under-rated and, although predominantly brown and grey, have some lovely markings.

Now on to the flooded grazing meadows and the usual suspects were present. What was different this time was that the Black-tailed Godwits, instead of being out in the middle of the water, were feeding on land on my side of the water. Never seen this before and an opportunity not to be missed.

On to the sea wall and didn't know where to look next. There was a lot of traffic commuting from the grazing fields and the beach including Curlew, Brent Geese and Wigeon, and the sound of all three was superb.

Once on the beach, the tide was well on its way out with plenty of mud. A bit too late for most of the waders which were now a mile away. One of the few that were close was this Ringed Plover and a couple of Oystercatchers.

Out on the mud was a large flock of Golden Plover. The mud looked a bit dodgy, but if you picked your way choosing the parts mixed with shingle you were able to get quite close.

At that point a bird of prey came through and spooked them all causing absolute mayhem. They all flew high in the sky as they always do, well above the Lapwings, and circled round until the danger had passed. Then they gradually lost height and settled once more.

So how did I do on the Adder hunt. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!

Based on insider information I was able to visit their preferred spot to get some photos. Last year I saw them, but I was only armed with my trusty 400mm lens. That was a disaster because they were so close that I couldn't get them in focus, and couldn't get back far enough because of the bushes. This year I was fore-warned and took my 75-300mm lens. It was still quite early in the season so just one adult and a young brown one from last year.

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