RAUK - Archived Forum - Todays Sightings

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Todays Sightings:

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Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


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Posted: 27 Apr 2003

In a rushed field trip of 20 minutes , checking an area of about 40ft x 40ft I saw 4 Berus in Surrey today.

3 females , 1 beautiful male.

 

Alan


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Tony Phelps
Forum Specialist
Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


View other posts by Tony Phelps
Posted: 08 May 2003

Very nice female adder today on a piece of remnant heath near Aldershot.

Total length - 69cm Wt 163g

Colour light beige chocolate brown markings - clipped and photo Id'd (clips for DNA).

Sorry can't post any photos, my scanners bust and Nikon say 3 months to repair.

Tony Phelps


Mike
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Joined: 15 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 74


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Posted: 09 May 2003

Tony,

Could scan it for you if that helps, can't do slides though.

I'm in Aldershot, or Camberley during the day.


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Tony Phelps
Forum Specialist
Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


View other posts by Tony Phelps
Posted: 09 May 2003

Reptiles, particularly snakes, just love this unsettled weather we are having just now. Today, out on an area of urban heath nr Bournemouth, a site that I have been studying for about three years. There is a high density population of adders here and today observed fifteen adult females, all recaptures, and five adult males, again all known snakes. Best bit was four immature, 3 females and one male. Immature adders form less than 10% of the total population and they are welcome new records.

Some of the females were basking together, one group of four and another group of three.

Also observed female sand lizard trial digging, looked ready to 'pop'.

 

Tony Phelps 


Tony Phelps
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Joined: 09 Mar 2003
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Posted: 16 May 2003

Adder rescue today 1130

Had a call via HCT of adder in office at the BP terminal Furzebrook.

It was last years baby (female) 210mm. The staff were very reptile friendly and had place a wastebin over the snake. Will let it go when it gets a bit warmer on the heath next door.

Tony Phelps


Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


View other posts by Alan Hyde
Posted: 16 May 2003

That's good news , nice job.

It's amazing how many people are changing these days and wish to learn rather than just kill on sight.

I wrote an article last summer for Amateur Gardener magazine, giving tips on either detering snakes from the garden , or how to deal with them in a friendly way should a snake turn up.

This was mainly because I was soooo tired of hearing the old ,"I hit an adder with a shovel because it was in my garden story" . Usually the snake killed is A grassy or slow-worm , but sometimes of course it may be an adder , but still no need to kill it if you know how to deal with the situation.

Anyhow, I gave the magazine my email address, saying readers could contact me for further advice or maybe if I was local removals. The response was great , I recieved quite a few emails from gardeners that would much rather be herp friendly if they possibly could.

Anyway, glad to hear your little adder is safe and sound.

Alan


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Tony Phelps
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Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


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Posted: 28 May 2003

Too warm for reptiles just now will go out later.

However had an interesting morning watching a female adder (non-breeder) swimming in a bog pool, at one stage it was actually basking half in half out of the water.

Also two male smooth snakes in same wet area and lots of common lizards.

 

Tony


Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


View other posts by Alan Hyde
Posted: 28 May 2003

Interesting you mention water Tony. I've often thought how many herps are kept incorrectly after observation in the wild abroad.

Hyla arborea can reguarly be found in very high tempretures basking in full sun . Pool frogs , marsh frogs , and natrix tessalatta , all reguarly seen in very warm pools and streams . I have no idea how warm as I've not carried a thermometer , but the water certainly felt warm to my hand.

I once watched a male berus swimming in a stream at Bisley ,. When I paddled in he became very deffensive , swimming against the current towards me hissing . I suppose he probably felt vunerable in that situation.

Alan


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Tony Phelps
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Joined: 09 Mar 2003
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Posted: 28 May 2003

Watched a male adder lying in the water this afternoon, it had a nice big bulge mid-body - one way to digest a big meal. Like grass snakes adders will dive under water when alarmed.

Rather than go back to my sand lizard post - just to say female had already done the business and the nest was covered - she must have completed during the hottest part of the day - any more early observations?

 

Tony


Tony Phelps
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Joined: 09 Mar 2003
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Posted: 02 Jun 2003

Had an interesting observation yesterday.

I came across a male and female on one of my my main study sites near Corfe Castle. As I watched from about four metres away the female moved slowly off, at this the male got excited and immediately followed. She came out a couple of metres further up the bank quickly followed by the male. He got a bit into the 'jerky' buiness i.e. typical courting behaviour and then quickly settled down to bask. Theyr emained like that for about ten minutes then she moved back to where she came from again followed by the male, quick jerky business again and settled down. This repeated four times in about an hour. This female had already mated (April 6) at least once, and the male also known to me me had mated with another female. Perhaps they were just being sociable as adders do; but it is late and strange behaviour all the same.

 

Tony


Wolfgang Wuster
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Joined: 23 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 326


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Posted: 03 Jun 2003
Hi Tony,

I saw this kind of thing in late May/early June in N. Wales some years back - lots of activity, males twitching and chasing each other and acting weird, as if the mating seaon was still in progress. All this round the hibernaculum. I rememebr thinking it was odd and verylate back then.

Cheers,

Wolfgang
Wolfgang Wüster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
-LAF
Senior Member
Joined: 03 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 317


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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

In 2001 I observed Adders copulating in mid August on a Fen Nr Pentraeth (sic?), Anglsey. The male followed the femal, did the tail tickling thing, and got down to business sucessfully. After a few mins the female moved away a few feet, the male followed and repeated the process again. No other males seemed to be present. I went back to to find my girlfriend (who had my camera) and got back around half an hour later. The female was still under the same gorse bush where I'd last seen her but the male was about 5m away crossing a clear area. I remember this one well as it's the only time I've managed to observe copulation in Adders, and it struck me as strange to be so late in the year. Don't know if they can do the sperm retention thing or if it was just bad judgemnet on their behalves.

Cheers, Lee.


Lee Fairclough
Wolfgang Wuster
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Joined: 23 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 326


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Posted: 03 Jun 2003
Hi Lee,

I suspect we are talking about the same place...

Cheers,

Wolfgang
Wolfgang Wüster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
-LAF
Senior Member
Joined: 03 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 317


View other posts by -LAF
Posted: 03 Jun 2003

Yeah, it's the only hibernaculum I know in that area. These were out on the heath behind the lake though, never found many around the hibernaculum after May. So what do you reckon it could be? A strange manifestation of IBD (well, it is Anglsey... lol), unique local population factors (sperm retention?), something in the water, boredom...? I haven't got a clue, that's for sure. 

Cheers, Lee.


Lee Fairclough
Wolfgang Wuster
Senior Member
Joined: 23 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 326


View other posts by Wolfgang Wuster
Posted: 03 Jun 2003
Beats the proverbial out of me - V. berus is not supposed to do all this V. aspis-type, autumn mating/prologed sperm retention stuff - one could conceive of some specimens being a bit late (e.g., into late May/early June), but August? Either there is a lot more plasticity in adder amting cycles than anyone ever imagined, or some are just horny all year round - beats me. The only real way of knowing would be to determine the presence or otherwise of sperm in the male - not sure whether that is feasible without sacrificing the animal - Tony, any thoughts on this??

Cheers,

Wolfgang
Wolfgang Wüster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
Tony Phelps
Forum Specialist
Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


View other posts by Tony Phelps
Posted: 04 Jun 2003

Yes, Sperm storage is not a component part of the adder's breeding cycle, as mentioned before two types - berus?aspis, the latter showing both a spring and autumnal pattern. One interesting thought, you are right Wolfganf it would be virtually impossible to evaluate sperm in a live male adder, the penial swelling is not always indicative. The interesting thought - Ian Prestt in his study (Prestt 1971), euthanised about 160 adders and these are now housed in the collection at Liverpool Mus. I guess there preserved in that stinking formaldhyde stuff (thank goodness for ethanol). Just wondered if this was worth pursuing. I have seen male combat in September but I know that other factors can initiate this behaviour, i.e. feeding. Ask Dave about his V.ammodytes at Poole, they used to do a bit of a dance at feedtime. But then again V.aamodytes has, although no one is absolutely sure, an aspis cycle.

Interestingly, the mountain vipers of the Xanthina groupo, (Montivipera) also have the berus type breeding cycle, as does V.ursinii, nilokski, darevski, and about four others. To add to my observations the other day - same male and female still lying together, same place, in light drizzle - mate guarding???

That is what I love about my work - you will never know it all - I'll still be scribbling notes when I'm in may box.

 

Tony Phelps  


David Bird
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


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Posted: 04 Jun 2003
fix in formaldehyde then preserve in ethanol is the museum method
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Wolfgang Wuster
Senior Member
Joined: 23 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 326


View other posts by Wolfgang Wuster
Posted: 04 Jun 2003
Yup, fixed for a few days in formalin, before being transferred to DNA-friendly ethanol.

Of course, the real tragedy is that the formalin seriously scuppers your chances of getting DNA data out of the things, or at least makes it such a pain that it is hardly worth bothering with, at least for large-scale studies. I could cry myself to sleep when I think about the millions of the largely unusable specimens (for molecular purposes) sitting on the world's museum shelves...

Cheers,

Wolfgang
Wolfgang Wüster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
Tony Phelps
Forum Specialist
Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


View other posts by Tony Phelps
Posted: 05 Jun 2003

Just a thought - with regard to establishing presence of sperm + material for DNA, in adders, if you find any dead adults male or female then this is sad, but an obvious useful resource so just get in the habit of carrying a plastic bag or two around with you.

 

Tony


Tony Phelps
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Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


View other posts by Tony Phelps
Posted: 16 Jun 2003

15/06  Male adder crossing road at Hartland 2230. Am going to have a mooch around tonight as the weather has been so hot during the day; David Wareham did some observations on a Swanage site using night vision equipment, he published in BHS Bulletin, havn.t got issue to hand.

Saw some night activity during 1976, but this was an exceptionally hot and dry year. Often see adders on tarmac early morning though, which may suggest nocturnal activity.

 

Tony


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