Thursday, 9 April 2009

A snake in the grass.

Male Adders can now be seen sunning themselves, never far from cover on warm mornings. The females emerge up to a month later. The males will then seek them out & wrestle each other for the right to mate. This particular snake has been seen in the same spot at Shapwick NNR for a week or so. Its body had a bulge in the middle, indicating that he had eaten. The head was no larger than the tip of my little finger & the whole length no more that a foot long.
The middle shot was taken on monday & you can see the milky looking eye. This is because the a snake must shed its skin, including the eye coverings in order to grow. The bottom shot was from wednesday & the old eye coverings have been shed & the eyes now look clear.
I have since located another area & a quick recce turned up another Adder & a larger Grass snake. These were a few meters from a family, happily enjoying a break from their cycle ride, oblivious to there neighbours.
Up untill a week or so ago, I also was also oblivious to these marvelous creatures, inches from my feet as I walked the various tracks on the reserve.
So if visiting, please look down, as well as up & keep your kids close & off the grassy areas. If disturbed they usually slip away into the undergrowth & will only bite if handled or stepped on. Watch them from a safe distance & enjoy!
(Above photos taken with a Nikon D2x, Sigma 150mm macro & Nikon R1-C1 macro flash kit).

Badger season

Well it’s that time of year again! The private wood where I have permission to photograph Badgers is starting to sprout new leaves & the nettles are already putting in an appearance. A scout about a while back did not reveal any recent digging, but signs are all around. Scrapes, the biggest patch of shed fur I have ever seen & latrines are all in evidence. A likely spot a little way from the sett was chosen & a bit of food was introduced. A follow up visit the next day revealed the extent of the badgers nocturnal foraging. The floor of the wood now looked like a plough field! A fallen log had been ripped apart & the nettles were flat.
You may ask what do you feed a badger? The answer is peanuts, raisins & sugarpuffs. The trick is to only put down enough for a treat. An appetizer before the main course of succulent worms. Over the next few weeks, I hope to gain their confidence & by the end of April be sitting amongst them during the feeding frenzy! An important factor in this is to get them to associate my scent & the noise I make when feeding, with food. If past experience is anything to go by, after a short while, they will not take a blind bit of notice of me or my flash guns. How many are present? Not a clue! Time will hopefully tell. Revisit the blog for regular updates.