I went back to see the adders again. Since last month the males have moulted and they now look at their best in shiny new black and silver skins. I saw six males and two females basking in the sunshine. When I first arrived on a cold, calm sunny morning there was none to be seen but they soon appeared as the sun warmed up. They spent an hour or two heating up before slithering off to do whatever adders do in the day (which often isn't much). I first found this male below.
Less than a metre away was this one, and another went past in the grass without joining them.
Farther on there were three more.
Both females I saw were very shy. I could see a coil or two of each but no head or tail.
I also found a snakeskin, in almost exactly the same place as the one I found last year. As I did last year I'll send it to the Wildlife Trust who collect shed adder skins for DNA analysis.
The skin was tangled in the grass and I think the snake does this deliberately to help pull it off. The skin stretches as it comes off, and is therefore longer than the adder, but also contracts a bit as it dries. This one measured 40cm. This is the dorsal surface, inside out.
This is the ventral surface.
This where they meet on the side.
This is the pattern on the back of the head.
And this is the head end where moulting starts. I'd love to see it happening.