It is time now to start observing adders but in the summer they are far less predictable.
In September 2009, at the reserve I look after, I ventured my right foot over a fallen branch into the unknown, and felt a bit of discomfort. I was in sandals, not a good practice, and it could have been that I had stabbed the tip of my toe with a sloe thorn. However my colleague noticed an Adder sliding away. He did not see how close it had been to my toe, and I was not clear if I had been bitten by it.
Returning home after finishing my tasks, I decided I should call at the minor injuries unit of the hospital. There was a single tiny perforation of the skin on the tip of my toe, no other outward signs of a snake bite, but I was starting to feel a little peculiar. The paramedic took my blood pressure which was seriously low. He sent me to the District General Hospital.
The doctors there were still not convinced of this being a snake bite because the indicative blackening of the skin had not started. Tests were done, and blood was taken. However I became sick and developed a cold sweat! I had by then the classic black disc around the bite, some mild paralysis of the calf and thigh muscles, the right elbow and the tongue.
Eventually four pages of test results came back from the medics all of which were readings within normal range. Blood pressure had also returned to normal. I was sent home feeling rather drained. By the morning I felt fine apart from a throbbing toe.
This was not the end of the story. Two days later some inflammation was moving into my foot, so I returned to the hospital to be given some antibiotics, though eventually a consultant concluded that these were not necessary; apparently what I had, was the reaction one would expect from a snake bite. Four weeks later my toe still had peeling skin, which resulted in bleeding and required some visits to the dreaded dressings clinic..
I have often told people, adder bites are no big deal; I thought that was the case, but I now know that they are not a trivial matter that can always be treated lightly.
Needless to say I am always as ever thrilled to conserve Adders.
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
However I advise no one to try this at home, least of all in sandals!
This is not a trick picture though it fooled me at first. This adder, not the one that bit me, was airing itself,reaching out of the damp zone in this tidal environment.