Middlesbrough Herald & Post

Some-fang nearly bit me!

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SNAKES alive! I was seconds away from sitting on an adder last week.

Having walked across the moors from Ingleby Greenhow, a sheltered embankment near Bloworth Crossing seemed to be a good place to enjoy lunch.

As I unloaded my backpack and prepared to sit on the short grass, I realised that the adder was directly underneath me and giving me the beady eye.

Naturally an adder bite on the bum is not to be recommende­d.

Retreat is always the best option in these circumstan­ces, which gave me the chance to take some pictures, including this one.

There are plenty of adders on Cleveland’s moors though we don’t bump into them all that often.

In fact I’d been on two deliberate adder hunts during the past year or so and failed to spot our only venomous snake.

Adders are not aggressive and only bite when alarmed, or sat on. So, if you do spot one you can observe it safely from a distance – and remember that adders are protected, so must not be harmed or trapped.

Adders usually spend the morning building up their energy before hunting during the afternoon. They will eat anything from mice and voles to lizards and frogs.

They will also take young birds, so this is a particular­ly dangerous time for the nesting birds on the moors – and there are plenty of them around.

I was scolded by a few red grouse for encroachin­g on their territory while it was wonderful to see so many golden plovers in their magnificen­t summer plumage.

Elsewhere fledglings are up and about everywhere. I’ve seen a mother mallard with 10 ducklings and also four greylag geese protecting a gaggle of 12 goslings.

A family of fluffy moorhens in front of the centre at RSPB Saltholme made for amusing watching, especially as they were running around among six young Canada geese.

Despite the recent strong winds, it’s good to see that the orange tip butterflie­s have taken to the air in decent numbers. Spring can be a difficult time to be a butterfly, but maybe not this year.

And the flowers continue to shoot up regardless. Our native nodding bluebells make any country walk a delight while I’ve noticed that the relatively obscure ground ivy is growing in some profusion this year.

Spring is a wonderful time of the year, especially when you avoid an uncomforta­ble adder bite.

Eric would like to hear from readers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.paylor@gmail.com

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