Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Dance of the Adders: 2014

"Dance of the Adders" - 2014

Today I am posting some dancing adder photos. The majority of these are from this year, with a few old favourites at the bottom.

If you are a follower of the BWC Blog, you will already know that the "Dance of the Adders" is one of my most anticipated animal behaviours to see every year. I just can't get enough of it, and always make sure I have some free time to spend with the adders during this time.

This year our adders put on a real good show. Not the best I have seen, but then I am just being picky... it certainly was still a spectacle to see and lasted for a while giving many visitors a chance to witness this beautiful behaviour.

Adder, Vipera berus

I will try not to bore you too much about adders and the "dance here. If you want to learn more about why they do it etc, then look through the archives on the BWC Blog to see past posts and video clips too.

Adder Dance Close-up

These close up photos really show them putting their all in to it, trying to force each other to the ground.

Rising Up

Perhaps at it's most spectacular is when they lift up to the first half of their body off the ground before trying to wrestle the each other back down.

Dancing through the Fisheye

I am lucky enough to have some photos I am very happy with from previous years. This allows me to experiment a bit more now with different angles and lenses etc. A lot of these photos from this year were taken with a macro lens, the first time I have really used it properly... and I quite like the results.

Of course, if I am experimenting, I had to bring out my ol' favourite... the fisheye lens. You can see above one of the better ones. Yep, I know... didn't really work did it... but you have to try these things. I will definitely give this lens another go next year though, as I think I know how to improve the photos with the angle of the lens.

Adder Dance

I love the shapes they create while dancing, so beautiful. When you see it in motion it is quite mesmerising and hypnotic. A lot of the time I just lay there and watch it, leaving the camera to one side.

Adder Dance, 2014

This is the type of shot I try to get each year for Liza in the main office. A straight forward side shot, low angle, of them rearing up. Once I have this I am happy to explore the other options.

Adder Dance

The adders have no fear of me being in there, they are quite used to it, and so happily continue to dance straight towards me when they need to. This is one of the better ones from this year of just this.


They really do twist and tangle themselves together to try and out wrestle each other.

Adder Dance

They never bite each other though, it is purely a test of strength and stamina to see who gets to mate with the female.

Adder Dance

Trying to Impress

You can see from these two, that on occasion they may even dance right on top of the female...

Not Impressed

... not that she looks too impressed!

Matt with Dancing Adders - by Mark McElligott

I always like souvenirs of myself with the animals. And I was lucky enough to have this photo sent to me taken by Mark McElligott.

You can see how close the adders came to me, great for the macro lens. Me being in there did not disturb them at all. They are so used to me being in there, and so wrapped up in what they are doing with each other, that they are almost oblivious.

Other are just curious. And on several occasions I had an adder crawling right by me, under me and even a couple of times in the macro lens and once over the camera!

It is a great experience being this close to an animal you love. Adders are fairly docile, not at all aggressive, and only really strike out in defense, say if you were to step on one for example. But then I think most wild animals would do that.

Still... I know and have worked with these adders for ten years. I probably wouldn't have got this close with wild ones, or ones I didn't know.

Adder Dance, 2013

These are a few of my older favourite ones. Above is a simple portrait of their dance from last year. 

Dance of the Adders

One of them coming towards me, and probably my favourite of this. I actually entered this one in to the BWPA this year, but unfortunately it wasn't short-listed.

Three Adders Dancing

The first year I ever saw them dance while I had a camera was incredible. Even more so was the fact that all three males got involved at once. This is the only record shot I got of it, but still a favourite because of how rare this is to see.

Folie a Trois - by Derek Bennet

But check out this one above taken by Derek Bennet. This really is a fantastic photo, I love it. Taken of our adders this year in a brief fleeting moment of all three males getting in on the action. Derek kindly sent this in to show me and allowed me to share it on the BWC Blog back in April.

Dance of the Adders

One of my earliest "adder dance" photos, and very much still one of my favourites. 


And then this one shows the event form a slightly different angle and setting. Quite different, but then I like it because of that.

Oh what the hell, forget what I said above... this is such an amazing thing to see I want those that haven't had the pleasure just to see what it is like in action. Below is a video clip from the dance a couple of years ago, with information on how/why they do it etc.

Thanks for looking.

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