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The late and changeable start to spring meant that Derbyshire adders were slow to appear from hibernation. Courtesy of John Beatty, who showed me his best places for this glorious little snake, I was able to see them in April, when normally adders have emerged, shed their skin, dispersed and become difficult to see.

This is a very beautiful male, who has acquired a new skin of a lustrous almost silver grey shade. I’m guessing 3-4 years old, rather small (perhaps 30-35 cm) and keen to intereact with a nearby basking female.

The sadder note is the widespread absence of adders from, as far as I can make out from friends, almost all the eastern portion of the Peak District. All this heather moorland and no adders! I seems hard to credit but muirburn, the ludicrous management technique pursued by driven-grouse moor managers, which pumps carbon into the atmosphere and reduces our moorlands to an intensive heather-and-grouse monoculture, has the additional baleful consequence of incinerating ground-dwelling creatures such as snakes and lizards. Over the centuries the species have been eliminated.

It was nevertheless a joy to see this colony and it represented my first encounter with the species in Derbyshire.

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