My daughter Maya challenged my friend Will to a snake-spotting competition today. The location, a Norfolk heathland. The target to beat ( as well as each other): 2... because that's the total of Adders that Will racked up yesterday despite apparently perfect conditions. It transpired that he probably visited the site too early; after he left, 10m further through one gorse thicket he ventured into, a male and female Adder were getting jiggy. Will dipped snakelove.
A rather lovely morning then. Fifteen snakes total and some great behaviour watched. Above all, an enchanted daughter who told her mum in great detail what each male was doing and why. Snakelove.
But the highlight was a goodly amount of time watching a female being courted by three males. It was this female that Richard had watched mating with a different, black-faced male the previous day. Two of the three males had a go at mate-guarding while we watched, but the female seemed disinterested. Richard thinks she'll mate again - and probably with a different male - but it didn't seem likely to happen today.
It took us about five minutes to equal Will's total yesterday - a male and female at opposite ends of a newly cut ride in a place where neither Will nor I had seen snakes previously. The same location provided our last snake sighting before we had to call it quits: a different (and very large) male mate-guarding that same female. Mating won't be far away. Nearby, following a tip from Richard, we had three Grass Snakes basking together - the first time I have seen a trio at once. We bumped into a few other Adders (making 12 in total), including a male that dived down a hole about 10m from the gorse edge (and thus pretty much in the open) and a neonate (probably a female) less than 20cm long.