Tuesday, August 11, 2015

(Almost) Too Hot for Snakes - August 2, 2015

I had to drop Mike off at the train station around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. On my way back, I realized that I was exhausted, and there was no way I would feel confident driving on the highway, or anywhere else for a while. I decided to take a couple of hours at home to just rest up, and maybe go out to somewhere local after lunch.

I managed to get in touch with a friend and met up with him at a pretty local place at around 1:00 p.m. It was hot, and it was dry. For a long while we didn't even see evidence of herps - no shed skins, no predated nests. We did find something gross on our way; I saved those photos for the last so you can skip them if you want.

We made it down to the river, which had a surprising amount of mud where there had been water. Some goldfinches were feasting on something in there:
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Finally, after being there for about an hour and a half, I flipped a newt near what is usually a vernal pond. Said pond appeared to be nothing but tall grass at the moment.
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None of the boards there produced anything; no real surprise, because many were in the sun, but not even the A/C in the shade was producing anything. Of course, at this time of day, any diurnal species would be up and on the move, or perhaps resting off this morning's meal.

Our footsteps startled a garter into bolting away. With a dual effort, we were able to corral it, and along with the snake, I got a handful of cobwebs and musk.
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After another while of walking, stopping to look out at the river (there weren't even any turtles out basking), another snake was successful photographed! This time it was a pretty ribbon snake with a stubbed tail.
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Notice the big spot of white in front of its eye? That is one identifying characteristic of a ribbon snake. There are also other ways to tell with regards to the striping; after you see several of them vs. garters, it's easy to tell the difference at a glance.
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The next snake we saw decided to play, "I'm a stick. You don't see me. I'm a stick."
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This "stick" had a flickering tongue.
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The snakes that act like this are the best. You can take many pictures without having to handle them; they just sit there calmly. For the record, most cottonmouths that I have found in Florida pose like this -- just to prove that they do NOT "chase" people like the old tale goes.

The final herp found was hopping around inside the tunnel under the train tracks. It was a little metamorph wood frog; proof that the vernals didn't all dry up before this year's batch got out.
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Okay, here's the gross part. Someone, a few years back, constructed a stone firepit next to the hillside beneath the train tracks. We flip the rocks, and have only found a small dekay snake there. I went over to flip the rocks, and didn't even notice what was on top of the stones until my friend mentioned something.

Here's the gross thing. Are you ready?

No turning back, okay?


So, there's a dead bird up there. I can't tell what it is, since most of it (including the head) is gone, but with the long neck, it looks like it could be a goose, except.....
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Those are NOT goose feet!!!! My guess is that some sort of raptor was hit by a train, fell down here, and, um, something took its head. I don't know. I can't think of another explanation.

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Okay, so that's my Herping Life Without Mike. I'm glad to be able to herp with friends, with or without Mike, but it's never the same without him.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful newt!! I wish I was with you guys! But I'm glad I didn't have to see the dead bird in person. Oddly enough, at the film fest, I had just shown THE GIANT CLAW when you saw that. Coincidence? I think not.