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We’re all going on a reptile hunt…

October 9, 2008

Day 2 with the film crew at the Urban Wildlife Centre, and we would be searching for Adders – and there is a glimmer of hope! The day dawned more like a summer’s day, with a blue sky and only a slight wind. Maybe, just maybe, we might get lucky and find what we are after….

Sand Lizard – but we wanted an Adder…We went off down the track and out onto Upton Heath where I knew we had a good few tins, and I also knew of a good spot where a large female Adder had been regularly seen basking earlier in the year. I told Steve where I hoped the Adder would be and we all set off, loaded down with cameras and sound equipment. I was getting worried about this – what if we didn’t find any Adders? What if we found them but didn’t catch it on film? To make matters worse, Steve had gone past where I hoped we might find our female, with no signs whatsoever. We then came to a tin and found a snake underneath – a smooth snake. Steve and the crew were really pleased with the find, and proceeded to film it while Steve spoke about it – he really does know his stuff! With the smooth snake safely released, we continued on for a while, and then Steve saw the female Adder -just as she disappeared into the heather and gorse, never to be seen again! We didn’t get it on camera, but I was much happier now that we had at least seen one. We soon got a couple of slow worms on film and I also managed to catch a common lizard that also found itself to be an unwitting star of the small screen.


Steve meets a slow worm - still no Adder 😦

Three species of reptile had now been filmed, and it all bode well for finding another Adder – and I knew just the place. One of the tins had become a home from home for a male Adder during the summer, and he seemed to be always underneath it whenever I checked ‘his’ tin. Surely he would be there today? Not a bit of it! He had obviously found a better spot to bask today – and was probably watching us from somewhere deep in the gorse. We decided to head back to the place where we had see the female an hour or earlier, in the hope that she had returned to bask again. As we walked down the fire break, we were treated to a Sand lizard that proved to be a real star – happily walking up and down Steve’s arm as the camera’s rolled. Another species ticked off – but still no Adder on film…. Another 10 metres further on and Steve found an Adder – but it saw him first and was already on it’s way to cover so again avoided being caught on film. This was getting frustrating….

Amazingly, just another few metres further Steve spotted another one – and it stayed put! The cameraman zoomed in on it, I watched it through my binoculars as he filmed and Steve held a runnng commentary, and then it started to unwind and head into cover. It was not quick enough though – and Steve was on it in a flash! Using a small stick to ensure he didn’t get bitten, it wasn’t long before he was holding up a fantastic male Adder – giving me the best views I’ve ever had of these fantastic reptiles! After a few minutes of filming the snake was released, and we all felt a massive sense of relief that we had achieved our aim -brilliant!
At last!  An Adder gets the star treatment from Steve and the crew.

At last! An Adder gets the star treatment from Steve and the crew.

Steve was on a mission now though – and wanted to try for all 6 species, with only grass snake to find and a couple of hours to spare we just had to give it a go. Steve turned to me and asked “Can you find us a grass snake?” “No problem” I replied, with fingers crossed behind my back, asking myself why I didn’t just say something sensible like ” I’ll give it a go” or even “I’ll do my best”! ” No problem” was the answer that had put the pressure back on again – just as I was starting to relax that we had got the Adder!

We tried the best site for grass snakes and despite lots of searching we met with no success, and were left to console ourselves with the fact we had some amazing footage of the other 5 species anyway. I then noticed The DWT landrover nearby, so gave Nigel a call on my mobile. He had found a grass snake under a tin nearby only a few hours ago – it might still be there? Spirits and expectations raised, we set off for the tins. Sure enough, under the tin was a grass snake, plus 3 smooth snakes!
Steve emerges with a grass snake, surrounded by the crew.  Success!

Steve emerges with a grass snake, surrounded by the crew. Success!

Amazingly, it a different grass snake to the one that Nigel had earlier – so we were a tad lucky to get a second one under that tin in the same day. That didn’t matter though – we had found, and filmed, all six species of native British reptile in one day, in October! I’m still pinching myself at the achievement – it’s hard enough to see all six in one day, let alone handle and film them as well! I can’t wait to see how it looks in the series – It’s now just a matter of waiting until next spring to watch it all unfold on TV….

Author: Steve D
6 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucie permalink
    October 9, 2008 10:24 pm

    Well done Steve, you guys were Brilliant!
    Im still pinching myself too
    Can I have your autograph?

  2. October 9, 2008 10:45 pm

    Wooo Steve the star of the small screen! Can’t wait to see the programme next Spring. Great pictures as well. Finding all 6 reptiles (under pressure) is pretty blimin amazing! Great post. Thanks. Jane

  3. October 11, 2008 1:58 pm

    Hi Lucie,

    I guessed you’d be impressed! Not quite up to autographs yet – maybe wait until it hits the silver screen!


  4. October 11, 2008 2:01 pm

    Hi Jane,
    Yes, really looking forward to seeing how the heath looks on TV, and if it comes across as a sprawling wilderness..

    Still amazes me to think that we actually caught all six – something I’ve never tried before, and probably won’t ever get to do again.


  5. Chris S permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:56 pm

    Wow! Steve. Impressive. Please make sure you keep tabs on the date of the showing and advertise it widely. Are you actually going to be a star yourself or is it just the reptiles?

  6. October 15, 2008 10:03 pm

    Hi Chris,

    All I know at the moment is that the series starts in March. Will have to set Sky to series link recording so I don’t miss it! I’m certainly in a bit of it at least, but not sure quite how much. I think the reptiles will be the stars though!

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