One of the benefits of this Covid lockdown is the necessity to stay close to home. In so doing, I have had the opportunity to frequent myself with the hidden gems on my doorstep. During my daily walks I have discovered new footpaths and new habitats, and not only discovered their whereabouts but also what lives in them; what wildlife has made it their ‘home’.
For several days running, I have walked down Gypsy’s Drove and on each occasion have seen two grass snake. Eager to capture them on film, I returned today posied with my camera. As I came close to their favourite basking area, I trod as slowly, quietly and softly as was humanly possible so as not to alert them to my presence.
Despite these aboriginal abilities, I had almost given up hope of seeing them again, but then just as I took my last steps, my eyes settled on the familiar perfectly camouflaged coils. A mixture of excitement and anticipation made my heart beat faster. With abated breath, I studied this semi-sleeping serpent, elegantly coiled on a bed of moss cradled within the tree roots; his afternoon snooze enhanced by the gentle dappled sunbeams that nourished his cold blood.
I did not want to disturb him, but inevitably I would. Just one last photograph a step too far. Although he had looked at me continuously with those emotionless eyes, his tongue now detected my smell and I watched as his coils slowly moved one after the other as he silked stealthily away into the thicket, leaving a void on the moss where once this snake had slumbered.
I too moved on. Satisfied. There is something deeply gratifying when you discover where wildlife lives and the possibility that you may make their acquaintance again. I have renamed the drove ‘Snake Pass’; a fitting tribute to the residents who live there.