Monday, 23 April 2012

Monday 23rd. April 2012

Given the weather forecast , I wasn't expecting to get out this St.Georges Day , but the expected rain came in a bit later , giving a chance of a quick look up on the Common , as the clouds gathered and the odd spot of rain was felt on the wind . All was quiet at the first LTTit nest , which was built about a week after the other one on the heathland . With Blackcap , Chiffchaff and Wren song above the wind , I reached the other nest in a brief gap in the cloud , and after waiting a few minutes , was
pleased to see both adults arrive with food , this being one of them . Now all they have to do is to make hundreds of journeys to and from the nest , without attracting the attention of the Magpies and Jays , quite an ask . Very soon after this shot , the first shower had me packing up and making my way back to the car . By the time I got home , the rain had really set in , and so it has continued .
As I mentioned yesterday , I made a visit to the Greensand Ridge , intending for it to be a flying visit , as gathering clouds were looking threatening . Almost immediately , I met a fellow enthusiast , and we spent some time looking around together and chatting . We both thought that animals would be out given the higher temperature , about 12C , but we weren't having any luck . After a while , we went our separate ways . A few minutes later , he returned , somewhat breathless , to tell me that he had found two male Adders 'dancing' , but they had only 'danced' for a short time , before disappearing into the vegetation . He did however get a few shots of the 'dance' , the first time he had seen it . We made our way to the spot , and , sure enough , everything was quiet . We said cheerio again and he went on his way , whilst I had a look around the area . I found nothing of interest , and was about to make my way also , but as I approached the original spot , found a male 'silverback'
Adder curled up in an area of moss , a couple of metres from the original sighting . He wasn't bothered by my presence , and he almost appeared sleepy . I got a couple of shots , then , to my
surprise from nowhere , in charges another 'silverback' , and all hell was let loose . There was so
much movement and thrashing about , that at times it appeared that there were more than two animals involved . Fortunately , I had my 100mm. macro lens on , but , even shooting at 1/4000th. of
a second , the lens was struggling to focus and record all the action , even though the light conditions were very reasonable . This trial of strength was sometimes devoted to which animal could get higher
that it's opponent , thus showing domination , where at other times , the emphasis seemed to be
which animal could stretch out further in the horizontal plain , to show superiority . All the action obviously took it's toll , and frequent rests were taken , but these were short lived as one or the other
animal restarted the combat . When I got home and downloaded the shots , it turned out that the combat had lasted for 32 minutes , at the end of which , the two animals slumped exhausted onto the
 moss , before both leaving the arena in different directions . I watched one return to the spot where the other chap first saw the pair and settled , and a minute or so later , I spotted what I'm sure was the other combatant , about 3 metres away in thick heather , where he started another combat session with another 'silverback' male . The pair soon disappeared from sight , and I was glad to get my breath back . To my mind , there had to be a receptive female somewhere in the area , but I never caught sight of her . The settled male was still recovering as I played back some of the 504 shots that I had taken during the 32 minute combat , which now takes me up to having witnessed the 'dance of the Adders' for the sixth time , I just can't believe it .


ShySongbird said...

Wow!! What an encounter, I remember how exciting it was last year and this time was just as interesting. I'm not supposed you can't believe your luck, you really were in the right place at the right time....of course it does help that you know exactly where to find them...and that's not luck at all, it's knowing your fieldcraft! Great photos Greenie.

Warren Baker said...

As the Songbird says Greenie, you deserve you dancing entertainment, with all the field craft that you put in. I bet you wished you could tell the world what you had witnessed. I suppose you have really - on your blog!

Kingsdowner said...

An incredible experience and photos to show us envious ones who have never seen this.
Great stuff!

Marc Heath said...

Wow, a great capture to get and you have done very well getting the story, very jealous indeed.

alan woodcock said...

Hi,great shots of the Adders.

Rob said...

Amazing stuff Greenie! With your experience I reckon you could teach them a thing or two on Strictly Come Dancing...

Paul said...

A great account of the "adder dance" mate, and some good pics to accompany your sighting. 32 minutes of combat is amazing, I was lucky enough to see approx 32 seconds of adder combat this year, and i thought that was good! As others have said, if you put in the time/fieldwork, then you will reap the rewards.

Did you get my email, that i sent you?

Ken. said...

Congrats on seeing your 6th Adder dance, what a good job that other guy came back and told you.
Good selection of photo's, it must have taken you a long time to decide which ones to post.

Noushka said...

Now that is a fantastic observation!
Knowing at what kind of speed they move, you did a fabulous job!
What a thrill you must have had!
I stumbled upon single individuals but a combat with 2 males is something I would die for!! :)
In Africa, I witnessed a combat between 2 black Mambas, each over 4 meters long!
The Jeep ranger refused to get any closer than 8 meters... they are so fast and aggressive! Also an unimaginable experience!
Cheers and enjoy your WE!