We met up at 10 o'clock this morning , not a sign of the sun , brisk cold wind blowing over the Ridge , and a temperature of 7C on the car thermometer . Perfect if you were looking for Penguins .
We made the best of it at two sites , but with those conditions , very little was found . Arriving at the third site , it was a bit warmer , being partly protected from the wind . Slowly , but surely , the cloud moved off and was replaced by blue sky , and the temperature rose markedly . With the increase of temperature came a change in luck , when we found the first Adder , a male in full breeding colours . He wasn't phased at all by our presence , and carried on with his business . He was moving parellel to the path we were walking on , and we watched him for a good 3/4 minutes , before moving on .It wasn't long before we found another male , sunning himself infront of a tree stump , and not seen immediately , was a large Grass Snake tucked into the vegetation , which took off at speed .
Another large Grass Snake was briefly glimpsed on the other side of the path , between two fallen trees . The usual haunts were not coming up with the goods today , but then as we walked across a meadow , there in front of us , a good 2 mtrs. from cover , was yet another male . He made no effort to get to cover , and gave a great close encounter for all . Plenty of pictures were taken , and then finally , a couple of flicks of the tongue , and at his own pace , made his way to cover . This close up shows the beautiful red eye and vertical pupil of the Adder . Both the other British snakes , the Grass and the Smooth , both have round pupils . Around the pond , we found an adult and a sub.adult Grass Snake under a tin refugia . On our way back , the Adder was out again , this time lying on the sunny side of an ant hill . As we recrossed the meadow , a female Orange Tip was found resting on the sunny side of a hedge . One further Adder sighting was made near where we parked the cars , and only 25mtrs. from where we had our first sighting , so he could have been the original animal or a new one . Well pleased with what they had seen , and me well pleased that some animals showed up , the Hertfordshire pair set off home .
As the sun was still shining , and I was passing close by , I returned to High Elms to see if I could get either of the butterfly species that I failed on yesterday . The Orange Tips , Brimstones , Speckled Woods and Peacocks were all on the wing , but I was looking for smaller species . I find that the only way to find Grizzled Skipper on this site , is to walk under the overhead power cables and wait for them to take off in front of you . This I did , and after 20 minutes or so , a small , fast flying insect shot off in front of me . Following them in flight is very difficult , but luckily I saw where this one landed , and crept up on it , camera in hand . The wingspan of this butterfly is not much bigger than your thumbnail , and the typical clubbed antennae can be seen . More often than not , you find them in this position , rather than with wings closed . On the way back to the car , I stopped to look for any sign of Bird's Nest Orchids . There was nothing showing of this year's plants yet , but a seed stalk of one of last year's was still standing , amongst the Hazel coppice stools . And finally , another of my favourite colour combinations .