British Snake Workshop
The Grass Snake, Natrix natrix is far more numerous and found throughout much of England and Wales but it is only found very infrequently in Southern Scotland and never in Ireland. Despite being relatively common it is not easy to find and usually encountered by chance. However it will go under corrugated tin otherwise known as refugia so where this has been laid down there is always a chance of finding one.
However of our native snakes it is the Adder, Vipera berus that is my main target species for these workshops and we use several sites where we can usually find them without too much difficulty. In order to make sure you do not go home empty handed we conduct recces at several sites in the days leading up to the workshops. Consequently we will give a free return visit should we fail to find at least one and catch it for you on the day. However because the Grass Snakes and Smooth Snakes tend to be loners I cannot guarantee either of these two species.
Our reptile workshops are a bit different from most as during the day we will teach you a great deal about all the UK subjects. All our snakes are notoriously shy creatures and consequently are not easy to find, let alone photograph. On this workshop we will teach you how to look for them. We will teach you where to look for them and, most importantly, we will show you the best way tophotograph them. Remember the best images are those where your subject is behaving naturally and oblivious to the camera.
We will do our best to find you both males and females and in a range of colours as they do vary quite a bit. If we are very lucky might locate a black adder but don’t count on it.
These workshops are run by a guide with the relevant license from Nature England and will be restricted to three persons to ensure that you all get the maximum amount of images available on the day. They take place at various locations on the Surrey/Sussex borders. The most critical factor that affects the workshops is the weather and we carefully monitor this. On several occasions we have caught adders in the rain but these are rare occasions. Consequently if the forecast is bad the workshop is likely to be cancelled at short (48 hrs) notice and another date arranged.
Location ; East Grinstead . Surrey / Sussex borders .
Prce £125 pp
Dates ; 18th April , 10th May . Focus on Adder , with Grass Snake , Smooth Snake , Lizard and Slow Worm possible .
19th April , 11th May. Focus on Smooth Snake with Adder , Grass Snake, Lizard , and Slow Worm possible .
What to Bring ;
Probably the best all round lens would be a zoom such as a 100-400mm, 75-300mm and 70–200mm. The latter is my choice but any one of them will be absolutely fine.
Back that up with a macro lens such as a 100mm or 200mm for close up detail.
Then if you feel particularly brave, you might like to bring a wide angle lens for “the subject in a habitat shot”.
Flash is not essential but I suggest you might consider bringing one for freezing tongue movement in head close ups or in case you decide to stay on late.
I prefer hand-held shots when there is some action and the light is very goodbut by all means bring a tripod if you prefer working that way.
A beanbag will facilitate low angle shots and so will a right-angle finder.
A plastic sheet to kneel or lay on will help keep you clean and dry.
Two bodies are better than one and make sure your camera’s batteries are fully charged. (Charger?) Don’t forget spare batteries and flash cards.
The walking is fairly easy going and walking boots are recommended.
However I have alternative locations on heathland the adders are in heatherand hard to see so I advise wellington boots for safety so remember to put some in the car as well as the walking boots.
Bring some antiseptic wipes as most snakes especially grass snakes will defecate on you and I can tell you the smell is pretty bad (and that is putting it mildly)!
Finally if you have an allergy to wasp/bee stings and use an epi pen remember to bring it as an adder bite can bring on anaphylactic shock very quickly.
The exact locations are not publicised except to say that they are mainly on the Surrey/Sussex borders. They could be on Downland, in Woodland or on Heathland depending on my recces. They are only revealed to participants once they have booked and paid for a place on the workshop.