Snake in the grass

Grass snake © David Chamberlain

As flaming June arrives, the heat disperses. Over the last few weeks the warmth has been an early season welcome for our reptiles.

I sat in the sun contemplating how long to stay where I was, when a gentle rustle alerted my senses. Out of the corner of my eye, the sinuous movement of dark green scales came into view. At first the motion was calculated and cautious in little jerky steps, but slowly changed pace to a smooth glide. Only a few seconds later the full length of its body was now visible, uncoiled, and wrapped an 'S' shaped across a log. A dark black eye focussed unwavering while a forked tongue tasted the air, flicking relentlessly in and out seeking out signs of the surrounding world.

Grass snake © Jon Traill

Grass snake © Jon Traill

As the warming rays of the sun continued to melt down on us, I very slowly adjusted my seating position, to gain a better view of my visitor. In turn my green companion had flattened out its body. It stretched its scales to maximum width with alarming ease to allow the warmth to enter its body as efficiently as possible.

My decision on how long to stay was now further complicated by the wish to remain at this spot I wanted to immerse myself in the moment with this creature, but was also acutely aware that my movement would trigger a burst of energy, muscles reflexively brought into action to disturb the sunbathing of my visitor.

Grass snake © Russell Savory

Grass snake © Russell Savory

I decided I would sit it out and wait until the heat of the sun became too much. I was secretly happy to stay, birdsong and the leaves gently rustling in the breeze, my soundtrack and backdrop to my view.                                                                                                      

A few moments passed when a swan came gliding overhead and skidded to a gracious halt on the nearby water. The sound drifting across the grassy glade promped the grass snake to make a hasty retreat into the undergrowth. I was now able to move from my spot, taking with me a brief but calm encounter etched and saved in the memory of a warm spring day.