Very disappointing to find that my old adder friend was run over last week. I had got used to seeing her stretched out in a layby on the track up the Chayne, and was always worried that her fondness for tarmac would be her undoing. More than once during the past summer I stopped the car and deliberately ushered her out of the way, which she usually accepted with a certain amount of coiling and hissing. She was a very big snake, almost two feet long, and she must have been quite a ripe old age.
According to Rodger McPhail’s brilliant book on the subject, adders can live for more than thirty years, meaning that this mangled sausage could well have been older than I am. Quite a humbling thought, and enough to add a note of sadness to the discovery. Against all prevailing opinion, I am very keen on adders. I have noticed a decline in their numbers even during the past five years, and I must say that I believe that buzzard predation is one of the key drivers for this in the Glen. I’ve posted on this blog and published magazine articles about buzzards and adders before, but suffice it to say that while buzzard predation is certainly not the sole cause of national adder decline, when you have a breeding pair of buzzards who are actively hunting adders during their dozy emergence period in May, it is hardly surprising that local numbers can collapse quite quickly.