Sunday, 27 September 2015

Autumn Adders on Cannock Chase

Today I awoke to a chilly morning - in fact, the first frost of the year here in Cheshire. I had arranged to collect my new herping buddy, Tim on route to Cannock Chase for a spot of adder hunting. We started at an area of Tim's and as the sun began to warm up, he spotted a male snake (the first male that I have actually seen). A good search of the area revealed two more males and two females.

We then moved on to check out my own site around the corner, and the weather was by now surprisingly warm for this time of year. This area had previously proved quite fruitful for large females, and we were hopeful there might now be a few young around. I was surprised and disappointed to not find any snakes in this area at all.

V. berus male.

V. berus male.

V. berus female.

V. berus female.

V. berus female.

V. berus male.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Today's Herping in Staffordshire

Common Toad Bufo bufo.

Juvenile Grass Snake Natrix natrix

Grass Snake Natrix natrix feigning death.

Hatchling Grass Snake Natrix natrix.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Blue Adder

An unusually coloured "blue" female adder photographed on my last visit to Cannock Chase. My favourite yet UK find!

Thursday, 27 August 2015


Earlier this year I travelled to Phuket, Thailand for a family wedding. It was a good opportunity to get out and do some herping in an area quite rich with reptiles. Hopefully I identified them all correctly. Please feel free to leave a comment if anything is incorrect.

Calotes versicolor

Varanus salvator

Author with Acrochordus javanicus

Hemidactylus platyurus

Boiga dendrophila

Python reticulatus

Author with Bufo melanostictus

Varanus salvator
Sphenomorphus maculatus

Sphenomorphus maculatus


Varanus nebulosus

Mabuya multifasciata

Mabuya multifasciata

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

My First Adder Encounter

Last Spring I took a trip to Cannock Chase, Staffordshire - an area well known for its adder population. Two previous trips to other locations had been fruitless and I was feeling confident that this time I would be lucky. Unfortunately my first trip drew a blank. I was completely new to the area and it took several hours of walking before I found a likely habitat - by which time it was late in the day and too hot for a good chance of spotting V. berus.

With some gained knowledge of the area, a second trip turned out to be more of a success... Within 30 minutes I had found my first adder - an adult female.

My first adder!

I managed to find a total of three snakes (all females) although one did decline to allow itself to be photographed.

Another large female.
All three individuals were found within couple of hundred square yards of each other, lazily basking in the morning sun. My first experience of adders had more than lived up to my expectations and was one of my all time top wildlife encounters!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

My First Grass Snake Photos!

This year I have spent a good deal of time searching for grass snakes (Natrix natrix) without any luck. My past encounters with the species have always been accidental and never when I was armed with a camera in hand... Until today.

I had arranged to meet Tim Hamlett who had kindly offered to show me around one of his sites in Staffordshire, but the weather was far from perfect - with persistent rain. We searched the banks and their usual basking areas to no avail, then a search under refugia eventually resulted in two juvenile specimens - both in slough.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Zootoca vivipara

When I was a child, I knew these charming little lizards as Lacerta vivipara or the Common Lizard. Apparently, following Mayer and Bischoff (1996) they have since been re-classified as Zootoca vivipara. In suitable habitat (including heathland, commons, moorland and sea cliffs) They tend to be numerous and often seen basking in warm weather.

Here are a few of my recent photos of local individuals (Cheshire)


Herping is the act of searching for amphibians or reptiles. The term, often used by professional and amateur herpetologists, comes from the word "herp", which comes from the same Greek root as herpetology, herpet-, meaning "creeping" - Wikipedia

In this blog I intend to share some of my photos and experiences whilst herping in the British Isles and occasionally abroad.

As a small child (like many young boys) I spent much time "pond dipping" and catching frogs and newts which I often kept in glass tanks and other cages at home. I later progressed to keeping exotic herptiles from around the world, but now, many years later I have re-discovered my love of British reptiles and amphibians and have set out trying to observe and photograph as many of them as possible in the wild.

Unfortunately in today's environmental climate, much of our native wildlife has come under threat and even a number of "common" species are in decline. It is for this reason that I have decided to be quite vague about any site locations and intend mainly to use this blog as an outlet to share some of my photography.

I hope my posts will inspire others to get outdoors and enjoy our native reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife.

Happy herping,

Common Toad (Bufo bufo)