As winter still lingers in Norway’s central and northern parts, spring is warming up southern coastal areas … and with April comes adder’s mating season. As the snakes come out of hibernation, they will bask in the sun, awaiting their first skin shedding… and then immediately after the shedding, they go into “mating mode”.
In southern Norway, this will be April & early May. After the skin shedding, males will normally come out grey with black zigzags, and females brown and males will actively search the terrain to find a “receptive female”, as females come into oestrus only every second year. Sometimes males will compete over these ladies and may also go into a fight. These fights are more a “gentleman’s sport” as they basically try to dominate each other and push each other down… more than delivering nasty bites & dirty tricks.
Snakes are good at seeing movements but not so good at detecting motionless shapes, so when I find a “restlessly searching male” in the terrain, I usually sit down and “freeze”,… and after a short while, I will be non-existing for them. In these situations, I’ve even had males crawling over my shoe-tips.
Fights are difficult to shoot as they often appear short & fast and down in the vegetation with grass & bush that easily confuses your autofocus. I use continuous mode with a limited number of focus points combined with my old Nikon 200-400 f/4,0 (new version 180-400), for these events mostly shot at 400 mm. A flexible zoom option is handy in these situations, and the lens can also focus pretty close. And of course, when I walk the terrain with a camera & lens, I use my MrJanGear lens carrying system.
So: If you`re lucky to see restlessly searching males crawling around, an invisible female will be hidden in the grass somewhere close. Sit down, freeze … and wait for possible action.