Adder Vipera berus
Adder Vipera berus
- Status - Local species & vulnerable
- The adder is the rarest reptile found in Essex. Over the majority of the county the adder is not recorded. In the North West of the county it is considered absent or very much underecorded. The adder lives within small colonies in a variety of habitats including woodland, heathland, grazing marshes, reedbeds and rough grassland. Man made habitats also provide suitable habitat for the adder. Road verges, railway lines, seawalls, ditches, banks and derelict land are all important habitats for the adder.
- There are significant populations on the coast of Essex. With over 500km of seawall and a high number of islands adders exist in discrete colonies. Adders are vulnerable to unsympathetic land management, persecution and in recent times land use changes for development.
- Significant sites
- Epping Forest Habitat Management has possibly caused a decline in adult numbers due to the reduction of habitat structure and removal of key reptile habitat - Molinia tussocks, bracken and other suitable cover. A considerable decline in adult numbers have been recorded from various locations of the forest. In mid to late 1990's counts of up to 40+ adults were seen on the plains. Numbers have declined to around 6 to 8 adults.
- Hadleigh & Benfleet Downs have a significant population which is being monitored by Andrew Woodhouse since 2005. Regular counts of up to 15 adult animals are found within small area which is carefully managed for the adder and other wildlife such as invertebrates. Using rotational management of the thick scrub adder habitat is maintained by reducing the cover to bare ground providing log piles and other prominent features helps to provide suitable basking areas for the adder colony
- Canvey Wick & West Canvey Marshes
- The former northwick road site provided a large area of undisturbed habitat which produced over 400 adders during site clearance works in 2006.
- Two Tree Island
- Adders are seen amongst the long grassland of the seawalls on Two Tree Island. at least 6 or 8 adult animals are found each spring on various parts of the seawall. Courting and combat behaviour has been filmed on several occasions at this site.
- Mersea Island
- Another important adder site is found at Cudmore Grove Country Park. Regular spring surveys have found up to 14 or 15 adult adders.
- Peldon Seawall - Bonners Barn (private)
- Monitoring surveys have been undertaken since the Environment Agency had renewed the seawall in this area. Since 2004 several adders have been found on the seawall and surrounding environs.
- Backwarden - Danbury Common
- A significant population of over 18 adult animals are found at this reserve. The ongoing management of the nature reserve has reduced the cover surrounding the main hibernation area exposing adders to interactions with human visitors. Monitoring surveys are continuing in the spring months to gain peak adult counts to estimate the population size
- More sites please do send in details of any more sites to the county recorder Jon Cranfield