Thursday, 16 September 2010

Wet, but Wonderful

Here is a link to my latest wildlife column - "Wet, but Wonderful".


If you have trouble with this link here it is in print.....

Wet, but Wonderful!

Well, it’s that time of year again! The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are starting to drop.
It may be miserable and cold out there, but there is a surprising amount of activity going on where our wildlife is concerned. Fallow deer are gathering for the rut, which commences in late September, our reptiles are preparing for hibernation and the lesser horseshoe bats are preparing to mate in the autumn.
There is always something going on in the forest and the fallow deer rut is a great opportunity to get some awe-inspiring views of this beautiful mammal. I will cover this and show some of my unique photographs in October, when the rut is in full swing.
I survey the Dean for the adder and grass snake every year, and this is a time when I feel slightly sad that I will not be seeing them for another 5 months.
I understand that some people have phobias and that some believe the scare stories regarding snakes, but I have helped certain people overcome their fears.
I am not an adrenaline junkie and I always put the wildlife first, but to be inches away from our only venomous snake, without being in any danger is a massive buzz and it is one species I will always have a massive passion for.
On one occasion, I found a 15cm juvenile adder (pictured) that was tucked under a small leaf. She was very hard to spot, but with her eye in the shade of the leaf so her vision was not impaired from the bright sunlight, she could see me just fine!
I started to photograph and film her when I heard a noise next to my right ear. I turned my head slowly and saw a mature male adder looking me right in the eye!
He was approx 60cm away, so I had no choice but to keep my eye on him in case he decided to come closer.
I have worked with these snakes long enough to read their body language and this male was either just being inquisitive or I was lying on his favourite basking spot!
I turned towards him with the video camera and started filming him as he slowly moved away. A couple more snaps of the juvenile and I moved away to let them bask in peace.
I would never advise “anyone” to try and get this close to the adder for it is venomous and an allergic reaction to its venom can be very serious. The problem is that you will not know if you are allergic to the venom until you “are” bitten!

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