Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spots and Scales

(Yep, there are snake pictures below, so proceed with caution if they give you the willies!)

A Boulder Blue-Winged Teal up close and personal.

I took my lunch at Waneka Lake and Greenlee Preserve this afternoon. Not quite the same experience as January or February. Today it was beautiful, and as such packed with Moms and Kids. I was glad to be out in the open soaking up the sunlight, but it was really a more chaotic and aggravating trip than all those quiet get back to nature walks I enjoyed over the winter.

Despite the crowds, I did catch this Spotted Sandpiper scavenging along the shore.

I also had a long distance view of these Wood Ducks in the wildlife habitat. There were goslings, Avocets, a Pelican that had one biker so excited he locked up his brakes to make sure I had seen it, and of course Yellow-Rumped Warblers all around.
But most exciting for me was this fellow who was slowly crossing the path as I walked up:

A Bullsnake! Snakes excite me because I have a primal, deep seeded, irrational fear of them. I have no issues with spiders, rats, sharks or any of the other typical "yucky" creatures, but snakes get to me. Over the years I have learned to manage this by learning as much as I can, and by seeking out opportunities for "controlled" encounters. For instance if I am at a zoo or someplace where there is an opportunity to touch a snake I will make myself do it, even while I am breaking out in a cold sweat.
On the other hand I am no hero when it comes to snake encounters. When a bullsnake was hanging out around an entrance to our work last summer I went out with a group to track it down. We all spent a good 20 minutes approaching it and retreating as it moved along the building. Then one guy joined us, looked at the snake for less than a minute, walked up to it and calmly pinned its head, grabbed it behind the jaw and walked it to a nearby field where he released it. Not in 1 million years buddy!
I like to respect the snake and observe it from a distance. I will still get within a few feet, and admire their creepy, reptilian beauty and efficiency - but that is plenty for me. The snake doesn't want me touching him or her, and I don't want them touching me, so we have a nice balanced outlook in that respect.
I just keep an eye out when I am hiking, and love to see them as much as any other less common fauna out there.

So soak it up you wild and crazy snake lovers, your moment of zen!

Now I'm off for an evening of feathers not fangs!
2009 Count: 126
Lifetime: 141

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