Tag Archives: England

Usable Snow!

Finally some snow that is useable/usable (depending which way you face the Atlantic) … Thick enough & icy enough for a sled, and at a weekend so that I can go out with the family & enjoy said snow!

A cracking time was had – and don’t be fooled by the movie… That hill was way faster than it looks…


What snakes are good at maths?

Ah yes, the old ‘Adder’ pun…

Off on a run around the local lake (Farnborough, South East England) I noticed a fast moving branch in the road. Instinctively I realised it could not be a branch, as they tend to sleep during the day (have you ever seen one slip across a road during the day? No… which proves my point).

I walked up to the ‘not a branch‘ slowly and turned off my audiobook app (I was listening to Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Played with Fire ) and switched over to my camera. I took a few photo’s of this beautiful female adder (thanks to a friend on Twitter who helped with the recognition).

The last time I saw one of these in the wild, was  a few years ago whilst I was driving along near my house. It was in the road in the opposite lane. A bus ran straight over it. Driver probably thought it was just road debris, but I was right next to it waiting for the bus to pass.

According to the Forestry Commission, this siting was absolute text book! Mid April, hot day… near water… not shying away from people. This following information is from their website.

Adder

 The adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain. Adders have  the most highly developed venom injecting mechanism of all snakes,  but they are not aggressive animals. Adders will only use their venom  as a last means of defence, usually if caught or trodden on. No one has  died from adder bite in Britain for over 20 years. With proper  treatment, the worst effects are nausea and drowsiness, followed by  severe swelling and bruising in the area of the bite. Most people who  are bitten were handling the snake. Treat adders with respect and  leave them alone.

Name

Adder (Vipera berus)

Lifestyle

Habitat

Adders are relatively common in areas of rough, open countryside and are often associated with woodland edge habitats. They are less inclined to disappear into the surrounding undergrowth when disturbed and so are probably the most frequently seen of the three British snakes. The best time to see them is in early spring when they emerge from their hibernation dens. By mid April, the males have shed their dull winter skin and are ready to mate. There is a lot of frenzied activity on warm days, with males looking for females and occasionally wrestling with other males for supremacy. The ‘dance of the adders’ was thought to be a mating display, but it is a larger male attempting to drive off a smaller one. The snakes writhe around each other in an impressive way, often covering the ground at great speed.

Breeding

Following mating, females seek out a suitable place to give birth, often travelling over 1 kilometre from the hibernation site. Births take place in late August / early September. Unlike most reptiles, adders do not lay eggs. Young snakes are born about the size and shape of an earthworm, but a perfect miniature of the adult snake.

Development

During the autumn, adult snakes follow scent trails left by other adders to find their way back to the hibernation site, which is often used by many snakes over several years. The young adders tend to hibernate in the area where they were born. Their survival largely depends on the severity of the weather in the following winter.

Diet

Adders usually eat small rodents, such as the short-tailed vole. They will also eat lizards, frogs and newts, and have been seen taking young from the nests of ground nesting birds. When hunting, adders strike swiftly at the prey, injecting a lethal dose of venom. They then wait until the prey dies before starting the often lengthy swallowing process. Like all snakes, adders eat their prey whole, their teeth are designed to grip the prey as it is swallowed. Their jaws are linked by extensible connective tissue so each of the four main bones can move independently. This means they are able to swallow items much larger than the width of their head. The lower ends of the ribs are not joined as in most animals and can also open out considerably. The adder’s digestive fluid is amazingly powerful and will digest the flesh and bones of their prey almost completely. Only the hair and teeth of rodents pass through intact.

Threats

Young adders are threatened by a variety of predators, including birds of prey such as the common buzzard and sometimes adult snakes. Others may be killed and eaten by rodents while in hibernation. Adders are protected by law against being killed or injured through human activity.

Identification

Most adders are distinctively marked with a dark zigzag running down the length of the spine and an inverted ‘V’ shape on the neck. Males are generally white or pale grey with a black zigzag. Females are a pale brown colour, with a darker brown zigzag. But some adders are entirely black and can be mistaken for some other species.

How we manage our woods

Most of the woods managed by the Forestry Commission are suitable for adders. The way we manage the woods – cutting down older trees and planting young trees – provides excellent habitat. For the first 10 years as the young trees grow, adders can build up large populations unseen. Then as the tree canopy closes overhead, the snakes seek out the light and warmth that is available at the woodland edge.


Obama – X-Factor or Lady Thatcher?

What were you doing today?

The first day on a job is always a bit daunting – so imagine how you’d feel if several million people watched you as you start out in the position.

Yes, that’s right – today America welcomed in a new President. President Barack Obama gave a speech at his inauguration that sounded full of challenge and hope for both America and the World. Sure – as with all leaders – he’ll do things that really upset some people and make others happy, but it is how he deals with it all that will make or break him.

Will he just say things to be popular, or will he grasp even the most unpopular decisions in the course of improving and bettering the USA?

Look at Baroness Margaret Thatcher – love her or loath her, she stood for her principals and didn’t turn tail when the people started complaining. She did what she thought was best for the country – and not chase that public arse kissing popularity vote. We need a leader like her again – she may not make cheap instant gratifying vote winning plays, but she wouldn’t have let the UK get into the state it is today.

I think our Prime minister is a joke at the moment (the last few haven’t impressed me at all). It appears that he just tries to please the mass voters – and not do what is right for the Country.

I think a leader should do what is right for the better development of a company or country – and not try to be a friend to everyone – after all, look at the state of UK Government now – it’s like the X-Factor. The party leaders do what they can to get the vote – but it isn’t necessarily the right thing for the actual country. They remind me of Hugh Dennis – Once they get the mic they just HAVE to hold on to it in case they never get another chance! Popularity over effectivity – but you need to blame the voters really…. but that’s down to the state of education and peoples understanding of politics and the running of a country. Maybe we need a Dictator? …. no….. not yet.

It’s a hard balance, but you need to be a boss first and a friend second.The trouble is that people need to see you have their best interests at heart, even if they don’t like it. If you fail at this then you won’t stay in power long enough to start making things better.

The President has high popularity at the moment (a lot due to the fact that he isn’t George Bush), and is at the start of his (first?) four years. This may well be the best time to make the unpopular decisions that upset people – as that will give several years for those decisions to then reap benefits and show to the people that he does have the interest of the people at heart (even if they didn’t realise it at the time), and will do what he has to do to forge a better future.

Being a good boss will win you the respect and then the friendship of those around you – and not the other way around.

Good luck President Obama – good or bad policies, I hope you stick to what is right for the people, and not just go for the easy popularity votes.


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