Wednesday 25 April 2012

Herping in Houston.

Drought of the past couple of years has killed more than 15,000 trees in Memorial Park. The Texas Forest Service estimates that between 100 million and half a billion trees have succumbed to the drought. On the drive from the airport into Houston, I noticed that many of the distinctive Loblolly Pines stood brown and dry, waiting to be felled to avoid too much standing dead wood. Recent rains have come too late to save the trees but the moisture has been absorbed, leaving the pines heavy and in danger of collapse. Many of them have already been cut to minimise the risk of sudden falls, but it is a big job. The forest in the arboretum was wet with lots of standing water all of which contained tiny fish and tadpoles. Raised paths and boardwalks through the most sodden parts kept visitors’ feet dry.

I had come looking for snakes this morning with a Coral Snake high on my wish list. They have been seen on occasion near to the visitor centre and I began my search there in the childrens’ climbing area before the pitter patter of tiny feet disturbed them.

The strident calls of Carolina Wrens rang through the forest with Northern Cardinals competing through the early morning. With no snakes to see, I passed on to the swampy area where a Yellow-crowned Night Heron flew over and settled in a tree ahead of me.

From here, I back-tracked past the Visitor’s Centre and made my way round to the meadow and the small lake which were by now soaking up the full sun (Google Earth ref; 29 45 45N 95 27 00W). Apart from another Night Heron and the background calls, there was very little bird action. A Great Egret took off from the long grasses at the edge of the lake and flew across the water to perch on a floating log which had already tempted a handful of turtles out to bask.

Dragonflies were already flying and in the absence of snakes and birds, I spent some time with them. Blue Dashers perched on the bankside snags while Blue Corporals preferred horizontal surfaces, such as the boardwalk, to sit out. A pin-wheeled pair of Eastern Pondhawk broke apart for the female to begin laying her eggs into the surface of the water by repeatedly diving down and dipping her abdomen.

A few other people were found by the lake and they all had snakey stories about last week or other sites, but one young lady pointed me back towards the swamp boardwalk where she had encountered two snakes earlier this morning.

The water at the swamp was choked with lily pads and after just a short time scanning, I found what I was after, a small, thin Ribbon Snake. It was sunning itself with the lilies easily supporting its meagre weight and the water reflecting its inquisitive tongue.

Texans must be pretty used to seeing snakes and a guided tour hardly stopped to glance at it as they passed through. That didn’t detract from my excitement though and better was yet to come. As a mother and two kids stopped to look, a Broad-banded Water Snake ventured out from the thick weeds onto the lily pads.

This snake was much heavier and used the water to support most of its body weight. It turned towards us, tongue flicking and passed very close, inside the 1.4 meters minimum focusing distance of my lens. In common with other species of Water Snake, the Broadband is not venomous, but can be aggressive if it feels threatened. Since it was the snake that was approaching me, it must have felt reasonably comfortable with my presence. When it reappeared later, a slight breeze had blown up and the downwind snake was far more wary.

The arboretum’s opening hours are from 08.30, so I had spent the first hour of daylight in the picnic area, close to the arboretum at Google Earth ref; 29 45 52N 95 26 23W. Most of the birds on the list were seen here from about 07.00 with four types of woodpecker and Indigo Bunting. The Warblers were disappointing with only a couple of species seen.

This area is characterised by thinner density of trees and enough picnic tables to host the whole of Houston on a Sunday morning. Cyclists like the circuit that runs for about a mile round the site. It gets very busy at weekends, so early morning is the best time to visit. Weekdays are much quieter. 

Birds  seen; 25 

Great Egret 2, Yellow-crowned Night Heron 2, Turkey Vulture 1, Mourning Dove 15, White-winged Dove 6, Chimney Swift 3, Red-headed Woodpecker 2, Red-bellied Woodpecker 1, Downy 1, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Olive-sided Flycatcher 1, Barn Swallow 1, Carolina Wren 3, American Robin 1, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1, Carolina Chickadee 6, Tufted Titmouse 15, Blue Jay 20, American Crow 4, Common Starling 8, Black-throated Green Warbler 1, Pine Warbler 3, Northern Cardinal 15, Indigo Bunting 3, Great-tailed Grackle 50.

Friday 20 April 2012

Conyer (soon to be) Nature Reserve.

My son has taken up squash and was attending a coaching day at a club close to the estuary. It seemed foolish, nay environmentally irresponsible, to drive all the way home only to return a couple of hours later to pick him up, so I continued north to a less-well-known tract of mud at Conyer (Google ref; 51 21 22N 00 49 04E).

The approach to The Swale (the body of water separating the Isle of Sheppey from mainland Kent) was through a disused brick and cement works which has been re-colonised by Blackthorns and Elders.  Planning permission has been granted for 24 houses to be built on the foundations of the old works, but more importantly, permission was granted on the proviso that the majority of the site be set aside as a nature reserve. Blue Tits, Great Tits and European Robins sang from the thorn bushes which were still in full bloom in mid-April. My first (UK) Barn Swallows of spring whooshed over my shoulder and north across the mud.

Sadly the game of squash is not tide-dependent and I found that the waters had receded as far as they could go. The waders that I had hoped to see were very distant. With a scope, I was able to pick out Common Shelduck, European Curlew, Common Redshank and Pied Avocets. On an island in The Swale, Black-tailed Godwits roosted in rows along the waterline and a Sandwich Tern surveyed the area from a perch at the western end. Black-headed Gulls make an awful racket even when they are roosting. Perhaps 200 or so were screaming and crying from the salt marsh island making me suspect that there may be a breeding site there. It is a low-lying island and very close to the high-tide level so it would be a precarious nesting site.

Remnants of the old wharf still exist and from here you can look out across the widest stretch of The Swale to the Isle of Sheppey over three quarters of a mile away. With the tide at its lowest ebb, it was almost entirely mud. I have an old map from 1908 which shows the navigation lines for use by barges transporting raw materials in and newly-made brick out from Conyer Creek. They appeared to correspond almost exactly to the channels and gullies cut through the mud by the receding waters a century later.

A flock of Black-tailed Godwits gave a flypast after being disturbed from their roost by the incoming tide, sadly I could not stop to wait for the tide to push the birds closer in. Time and rain was pushing me on. As I left, I was struck by the sight of a Eurasian Collared Dove that had made its nest at the top of a rainwater downpipe. With a drought in progress the bird could be forgiven for choosing the nest site, but with a storm coming, the poor choice would soon become apparent.

My son’s squash training continued the next day and I returned to Conyer for another visit with my Father-in-Law, Frank, to find that only the top of the bird’s head was visible and the nest must have shrunk and compacted with the water. As I write this up a few days, later, it is still raining (such is the nature of drought in the UK) and I suspect that the dove’s perseverance will have been in vain.

A Stoat dashed across the path in front of me and disappeared into the thickets of thorn scrub and bracken. I was very excited as I very seldom see Stoats. Even better the next day after I dropped Frank off, I stopped in at Bax Farm and saw two Stoats. They were very secretive, keeping mostly to the reeds alongside the river but I was able to track their progress upstream by the leaping frogs and the hystreical Moorhens.

Birds seen; 30

Great Crested Grebe 1, Great Cormorant 1, Little Egret 1, Canada Goose 6, Brent Goose 45, Common Shelduck 35, Mallard 15, Common Pheasant 2, Eurasian Oystercatcher 6, Pied Avocet 60, Northern Lapwing 2, Black-tailed Godwit 70, European Curlew 12, Common Redshank 12, Black-headed Gull 250, Herring Gull 2, Sandwich Tern 1, Common Wood Pigeon 4, Eurasian Collared Dove 1, European Swallow 3, Common Blackbird 4, European Robin 1, Great Tit 2, Blue Tit 2, Long-tailed Tit 1, Eurasian Magpie 6, Carrion Crow 60, Chaffinch 15, European Goldfinch 1, Reed Bunting 1.

Visit the dedicated UK page for other posts from Kent including Oare Marshes and Mote Park.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Meadowlark Botanic Gardens, Tyson's Corner, IAD. April 2012

A quick visit to Raglan's Wood (Google Earth ref; 38 55 23N 77 14 28W enter via Tyspring St. off Gosnell Rd) early in the morning produced a close encounter with the local White-tailed Deer.
My new compact camera comes equipped with a video function and I will embed some motion to the post if I can figure out how. Until then, this was my favourite still from the old Canon.



I was headed towards the Meadowlark Botanic Gardens, but opening time is not until 10.00 so I found a couple of en-route divertissements to while away the golden hours of the early morning.

Freedom Hill (Google Earth ref; 38 55 00N 77 14 29W) is just a few hundred yards beyond Raglan's Wood, but I was surprised to note that deer activity here was much reduced. There was much more understorey ground cover which has been eaten away at Raglan's Wood. The birds enjoyed the extra cover and White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos fed from the ground in front of the thickets. A Brown Creeper clung to the trunk of a pine tree near the car park and the ubiquitous Northern Cardinals kept up their whistles as a soundtrack for the day.

Meadowlark Botanic Gardens (Google Earth ref; 35 56 15N 16 53 04W) was entrusted to the care of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority by Gardiner Means and Caroline Ware who had previously run the 74 acres as a small farm. NVRPA expanded it slightly and created a public garden in accordance with Gardiner’s and Caroline's wishes.

As a birding site, much of the gardens have been well manicured giving a sterile feel. Much of the bankside along the lakes was closely cropped and the only waterfowl seen were Canada Geese. My go to guy in times of trouble, ie when not much is presenting itself for pictures, is the American Robin. It is always to be found on nice lawns and will always sit for a photo.

To be fair, Lake Gardiner had been allowed to become slightly dishevelled with some weed growth in the water and reeds in the far corner and this concession to nature had attracted a Red-shouldered Blackbird who performed from the seed head of a reed mace.

Bird boxes have been erected around the grounds. A Tree Swallow had already staked a claim to no. 12 and had started preparations for his anticipated family.

At last I found Lake Lina which represented a slice of Virginia native wetlands and whispered to me of snakes and dragonflies. If I had known of Lake Lina at the beginning of the morning, this is where I would have spent my time.

Carolina Chickadees and American Goldfinches flitted through the trees here and a Red-shouldered Hawk soared beyond the borders of the park. The Canada Geese look set to consolidate on their position as primary waterbird of the gardens.

It was here that I found my first American ode of the new season, a red-crayon Blue Corporal, Libellula deplanata. Another darner and a damselfly were too quick for me to identify.

In the bushes close by, an Eastern Bluebird stopped for a good look.

Time was running against me this morning and I still faced a thirty minute cycle back to the hotel. I had just enough time left to take a quick once round by the Korean Bell meadow where a Cooper’s Hawk flew over, chased by Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows (PS refers to the slight recomposition of the swallows).

A small trickle runs along a wooded ditch and at last I managed to get a picture of a Chipping Sparrow. They had been calling all day, but had managed to stay out of range or tucked behind a leaf to avoid the attentions of my lens.

Birds seen; 20

Black Vulture 1, Canada Goose 20, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 2, Mourning Dove 1, Tree Swallow 25, Barn Swallow 4, Eastern Bluebird 2, American Robin 15, Hermit Thrush 3, Carolina Chickadee 4, Tufted Titmouse 2, Blue Jay 1, American Crow 5, House Sparrow 6, American Goldfinch 3, Northern Cardinal 3, Chipping Sparrow 4, Common Grackle 10, Red-winged Blackbird.

The cycle ride from Tyson's Corner to Meadowlark Botanic Gardens takes you through the pretty town of Vienna. Cross the Leesburg Pike onto Gosnell Road and turn right after 600yds onto Old Courthouse Rd. Keep straight for 3 miles and the gardens are on your left. There are a couple of hills, but nothing sustained.

Opening times are from 10.00. Closing times vary with the time of year. Follow this link for more on closing times.

More posts from Tyson's Corner including; Great Falls Park and Shenandoah National Park can be found at the dedicated USA and Canada page.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Apricot Wood Duck

This is a follow up to a puzzle about a peculiarly coloured Wood Duck.

Thank you to the Yahoo group for the Mandarin and Wood Duck Breeders Association for the replies to my enquiry.

The individual above is known in the trade as an Apricot Wood Duck. I am told that this is a colour mutation that can occur in the wild, but would very rarely be seen outside of private collections. In the past, such birds would have been collected as genetic stock for a breeding program that could reliably reproduce the pattern for the duck fanciers' trade. The genetic bank containing the apricot mutation trigger has probably been much depleted in the wild stock making such a mutation unlikely outside of selective breeding.

For a post including a more traditional Wood Duck, I refer you to the Stanley Park article

This is not a regular post. I found a Wood Duck with a strange colouration as part of a private collection recently and have made an enquiry to waterfowl collectors to see if they can tell me about it.

The base colour is buffy brown with a darker brown on the head. I suspect that it must have been specially bred for this effect.
If you have any comments about it, please reply either in the section below, on the waterfowl forum or by email to

Sunday 15 April 2012

Raglan's Wood, Tyson's Corner,

The weather was threatening to be wet and windy for the next day, so I popped out quickly to Raglans Wood (Google Earth ref; 38 55 23N 77 14 28W enter via Tyspring St. off Gosnell Rd) for my fix in case tomorrow got rained off. There was not much time before dusk, but the evening looked very pleasant if just a little chilly.

White-throated Sparrows and Northern Cardinals were making plenty of noise, but I had only brought a small compact camera which was unable to discern the birds and focus on them among the branches.

Thankfully, it takes a nice landscape picture, even in portrait attitude, so this is more of a descriptive post. The White-tailed Deer that can often be seen there were quite approachable this evening, and filled the frame much better, making focus possible.

The cropping zoom of post production reveals a curious pixel property that makes the picture look as if it has been hand painted. It's an attractive effect in the right situation, but not the one I was hoping for in my new compact camera.

A Red-shouldered Hawk was heard in the woods beyond the cut. A new path has been opened up and I followed it in search of the hawk, which I assume must be resident as I always find it here. A party of birds along this path included American Robin, Brown Creeper, Carolina Chickadee and White-breasted Nuthatch. Further along I could hear Hairy Woodpeckers, but was thrown into a crisis of confidence about my aural skills as I was seeing Downies, then a larger bird with a bigger bill appeared around the base of the trunk to confirm what I thought I was hearing.

In the past, Raglan’s Wood has not produced much in the way of birds, but today it was as productive as I have seen it. None of the birds were terribly special, but there was a better selection than previous visits, with 20+ species in just over an hour.
Species seen; 22

Great Blue Heron 1, Canada Goose 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 3, Mourning Dove 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 1, Downy Woodpecker 2, Hairy Woodpecker 2, Northern Flicker 1, Eastern Phoebe 1, American Barn Swallow 1, Carolina Wren 3, American Robin 4, Carolina Chickadee 3, Tufted Titmouse 4, White-brested Nuthatch 1, Brown Creeper 1, American Crow 3, Common Starling 6, American Goldfinch 1, Northern Cardinal 12, White-throated Sparrow 8, Chipping Sparrow 1.

Links to other posts from Raglan's Wood can be found below;

Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for other posts from nearby, including, Great Falls Park and Shenandoah National Park.

Raglan's Wood, Tyson's Corner, Washington, IAD

Thursday 12 April 2012

Central Park, New York, April 2012

April has barely rubbed the sleep from her eyes, but already Central Park is up and dressed for the new season.  It still seems a little early for such a flush of leaf and it may make warbler spotting a little tricky over the next few weeks.

I entered by The Pond in the south-east corner, accompanied by the “pibbidy-pibbidy-pibbidy” of the White-crowned Sparrows. The park was quiet, early on Easter Saturday morning, but I soon found that everyone was gathered over on the north corner of Sheep Meadow for an organised run. I moved quickly beyond the massing runners and spent most of the day skulking around in The Ramble. A Red-tailed Hawk occasionally flew over, screaming and a Chipping Sparrow was seen by Bow Bridge (Google Earth ref; 40 46 33N  73 58 18.50W).

Northern Cardinal
 At The Oven, Northern Cardinals waited expectantly for offerings from one of the park’s many feeders while a Red-bellied Woodpecker excavated a nest hole in the top of a dead tree.


Red-bellied Woodpecker

Maintenance Meadow was bathed in sunshine and blossom. There were lots of birds here including Dark-eyed Junco, American Robin and my first Eastern Phoebes of the season.

Eastern Phoebe

The feeders, maintained by the Central Park birding community (at Google Earth Ref; 40 46 38N 73 58 10W approx), were as popular as ever. Socks containing blackseed attracted the American Goldfinches which were starting to show their summer plumage. Feed sprinkled on the top of a rock brought in the White-throated Sparrows which already looked splendid.

White-throated Sparrow

 A small artificial stream known as The Gill runs out from the Azalea Pond and snakes through the woods towards the lake. A Louisiana Waterthrush had been reported from here I couldn’t recall seeing one before in the USA, so I stopped to see if it would return. Other birders had recently seen it pass back upstream and pointed out a Winter Wren while I waited.

Louisiana Waterthrush

After a while the Louisiana Waterthrush returned, but settled on a patch of mud across the stream with the light behind it making for very contrasty pictures. Normally, I would be willing birds to come out into the light, but on this occasion, I was pleased when it stepped into the shade and allowed me to get a better shot. It stopped for a while before bobbing off upstream again.
I wanted to get a better picture and crossed the stream and hid behind a tree to give a better angle. A Hermit Thrush came down to the water’s edge to keep me clicking while the Waterthrush was absent. They had been very common in the park this morning, but not very approachable until now.

Hermit Thrush

The Louisiana Waterthrush returned, but was moving fast across the fallen branches and sticks in the stream. I wasn’t able to get a still shot until it ducked back into the shade and stopped for a moment.
The path along the south side of Turtle Pond produced Yellow-rumped Warblers in the trees along the bank of the lake. I finished up at the model boating lake to catch up on how Pale Male and his new mate Xena were getting along.

One of the birds is constantly sitting on the nest so it is assumed that eggs are being incubated, but no-one was prepared to commit how many may be in the clutch. Half a dozen hawk watchers filled the benches looking up towards the nest on 5th Ave and drew a collective breath as a foolhardy Peregrine flew in and suddenly changed direction to head north and out of sight.
Birds seen; 34
Double-crested Cormorant 2, Great Egret 1,Canada Goose 15, Mallard 25, Red-tailed Hawk 3, Peregrine Falcon 1, Mourning Dove 20, Red-headed Woodpecker 12, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4, Downy Woodpecker 8, Northern Flicker 3, Eastern Phoebe 8, Winter Wren 2, American Robin 150, Hermit Warbler 45, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6, Tufted Titmouse 6, Brown Creeper 2, Blue Jay 40, American Crow 1, Common Starling 20, House Sparrow 60, American Goldfinch 12, Yellow-rumped Warbler 4, Louisiana Waterthrush 1, Northern Cardinal 15, Dark-eyed Junco 30 White-throated Sparrow 100, Swamp Sparrow 5, Chipping Sparrow 1, Field Sparrow 1, Common Grackle 120, Red-winged Blackbird 2.

There are more posts from Central Pak and New York at the Links below;

Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more from the continent of North America

Saturday 7 April 2012

Rehab in Mote Park

Keeping kids entertained during the Easter break had driven me crazy by mid- afternoon and I escaped while they weren’t looking and took the bike down to Mote Park for an hour.

I entered from the Ashford Road. A Mistle Thrush was feeding from the grass here, still managing to get into the hardening ground of drought-hit Kent. The Old Pond is just along from here and has recently been dredged. I have not seen the Water Rails here since the improvements.

I followed the River Len upstream and found Blue Tits and Great Tits among the Alders along the bank. A high pitched call was a Eurasian Treecreeper and it took a few moments to pin it down. Despite it being fairly close across the narrow river, it would not sit still for a nice portrait.

A Common Blackbird was seen and heard singing at close quarters and was more obliging than the tree creeper.
Birds seen; 27
Grey Heron 2, Mute Swan 4, Canada Goose 12, Mallard 12, Tufted Duck 3, Common Moorhen 3, Comon Coot 6, Black-headed Gull 35, Herring Gull 2, Stock Dove 4, Common Woodpigeon 35, EUrasian Collared Dove 4, Grey Wagtail 1, Northern Wren 1, Mistle Thrush 2, Common Blackbird 4, European Robin 7, Blackcap 1, Great Tit 6, Blue Tit 8, Eurasian Nuthatch 2, Eurasian Treecreeper 1, Eurasian Jay 3, Eurasian Magpie 15, Carrion Crow 25, Common Starling 6, Chaffinch,
Other posts from Mote Park can be found at the links below;

Visit the dedicated UK page for more posts from the area, including Leybourne Lakes and Oare Marshes.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Solo Snakes

With my new, highly tuned snakey senses prickling, I returned to the Greensand Ridge on what I had judged to be a good morning for Adders. Clear skies last night had allowed the temperature to drop and even a touch of frost had been predicted last night. The snakes would need to bask to build up their enegy for the day.
In my eagerness, I arrived before the sun had risen sufficiently to fall on the slope. So for the first pass, there were no snakes to be seen. I returned along the path which runs along the base of the down. It looked promising, but was also non- productive.

By now, it was just after 09.30 and as I started my second pass, I found the first Adder, a small one, beside a square of corrugated iron laid out as a refuge. It was very wary and slipped away quickly as I approached, but a second Adder was seen under the sparse cover of the bushes.
I suspect that this was the same individual that Phil and I saw on our outing the other day. Then, it had a cloudy eye that we interpreted as a sign that it was about to shed its skin. Now its eye was clear and red.

It allowed me to approach fairly close before huddling itself into what looked like a defensive posture. I stayed still and eventually it uncoiled and recommenced basking.

3 Adders were seen and a couple of Slow Worms. Perhaps my snakey senses still need a bit of fine tuning. Knowing that there are snakes present gives a chap confidence to be thorough and vigilent in his search, but it would be a difficult task to find them on a virgin site without knowing exactly where to look.

The third adder I suspect was also an individual that we saw last week. It was tucked away so deep in the brambles that I would never have found it if I had not perservered in the knowledge that it was in there somewhere. My next job is to learn how to seperate the sexes. Greenie reckons all the snakes from my visit with Phil to be males when we took them for females.
On my next outing, I need to look for gradually tapering tailes to indicate a male snake, or a sudden taper as worn by the females. 

Monday 2 April 2012

Adders in Kent

I have recently been harbouring a desire to see Adders, Vipera berus, the UK’s only venomous snake. After a couple of days of fruitless searching, I sought help from a pair of more practiced eyes and called in Phil Sharp. We met in the car park at Leybourne Lakes Country Park and headed to the Greensand Ridge, made famous by Phil's snakey friend, the author of Greenie in the wild.

A common misconception that I had carried until now is that snakes like to bask during the middle of the day (this being the most efficient time for gathering heat), thus my searching had taken place in the afternoon on the assumption that the snakes would be tempted out by the warm sunshine. Today however, we arrived at 09.30 and Phil found the first adder just moments later. It is more true to say that they bask earlier in the morning so that they have the energy to be active during the day. Reasonable temperatures overnight meant that the snakes needed just a little topping up in the morning to fuel them. The sun was only just appearing around the shoulder of the slope and we had to keep our distance to avoid casting long shadows across the snake.

Another assumption was that this was a female. The females have a brown background colour with black markings while the males’ background colour is lighter, usually grey. Some males are darker though and may resemble a female. We were not experienced enough to differentiate on any other criteria, so for the time being, we said female. Note that the eye is opaque which we took to be a sign that a slough was imminent. Phil published his account before me and received a comment from Greenie in the Wild stating that he thought that the snakes pictured were males. Thus began a trawl of the internet in an attempt to find out how to sex an Adder. Apart from the unreliable background colour, I found that the gradual tapering of the tail indicates a male and a sudden tapering is characteristic of a female. Of course if you know different.......

Very shortly afterwards, Phil spotted another two Adders coiled together in the lowest branches of a bramble bush. Without Phil, I would have certainly missed these two. Our fourth snake came as I lifted one of the refugia that dot the slopes. It coiled into what appeared to be a defensive attitude, so I lowered the cover to avoid disturbing it too much.

We climbed over the top of the hill and into another field which looked very promising, but the heat was more intense up here and the reptiles may well have gone to seek some shade by now. We did however find a Holly Blue and a Green Hairstreak, both life butterflies for me (another comment posted for Phil's account was that this was a very early Green Hairstreak and may be the earliest recorded in Kent).

This Common Lizard has lost its tail in the past, as indicated by a dark stump at the end.

Slow Worms and Common Lizards were also seen, but there was no question about which reptile I enjoyed the most. We returned towards the car and revisited a couple of the successful sighting spots. The square of corrugated iron that had provided refuge for the fourth Adder now held a fifth and made Phil jump as he had already seen number four to the side and was not expecting to find another one under there.
Thanks very much to Phil for his company, practiced eye and for driving during the fuel panic.