Thursday, 12 March 2020

Hatfield Moor for Adders

Roger and I had been waiting for a couple of weeks for the right conditions to visit Hatfield Moor, part of the Humberhead Peat Levels National Nature Reserve, managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, to look for adders.  The Humberhead Peat Levels represent the largest area of raised bog wilderness in lowland Britain and comprises Hatfield Moor, Crowle Moor, Thorne and Goole Moor.  These peatlands are a remnant of a large wetland that occupied the floodplain of the Humberhead Levels thousands of years ago.  They have been worked for peat to their detriment throughout recorded history.  Extemnsive restoration work is being carried out to return them to their former condition.  The area is internationally important for nightjars as well as adders.

We were waiting for a clear sunny, but fairly still morning and, eventually on the 11th March the forecast looked promising.  I was up early, pack up made and at Roger's for 7.00 am.  By 8.00 am we were parked and heading for the location they favour.  The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have worked had to create suitable habitat for the reptiles by creating sheltered bays of brash where they can lie out and warm up in the sun.  Being cold blooded they are slow and inactive, and so easier to approach and photograph, early in the morning.  As the day warms up they move much more quickly.  As well as adders we saw a marsh harrier and a pair of buzzards and coltsfoot and goat or pussy willow were in flower.  Altogether we found 9 individuals.  To photograph and sit closely observing these creatures is a real privilege.  As with all wild life photography and observation the subject must come first and so we always approached them slowly and quietly making sure to move slowly so that we did not disturb them.  To observe an adder from only one or two feet and not disturb it is a magical experience. 
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