Friday, May 31, 2013

Snakes, Why'd It Have to Be Snakes?

As fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark will remember, Indiana Jones was not fond of snakes. If you aren't fond of the creatures either, you might want to skip this post and come back next week.

For some reason, I am not generally as observant of the many water snakes that populate the impoundments and banks of the refuge. However, in the past week two different people shared interesting scenes of water snake life, that I thought you would enjoy.

First, along the banks of the Cross-dike Trail, there was a female water snake and 5 males in a mating ball. From my reading the females once pregnant are unable to reproduce again for a relatively long time. So when a female is ready males race for the opportunity. My understanding is that males are attracted by her pheromone trail. For the males the attraction is to be the first to breed and pass on their genetics to the next generation.

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The female is the larger snake

A couple of days later, Alan alerted me to the fact that the carp were going crazy down by the outflow of the lower impoundment and "there's a snake trying to eat a fish". Though it was getting hot, that was something I had to get photos of.
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Carp fighting to go up river, only to be stopped by the fence by the outflow. The receeding waters leave them stranded

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The fish had been stranded by the spillway and the snake had dragged it ashore

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At first you would say there is no way the snake could eat the fish. For over an hour the snake circled the fish trying varying approaches to swallow the fish

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Finally it settled on the head first approach

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It got the fish down as far as the gills. For some reason it backed off. Unfortunately, I had been watching this for 1 1/2 hours and had be going. I don't know how it ended, but I do know the fish wasn't there the next time I was by

If all that was a bit much for you, here are some pretty pictures of some of the flora that is blooming at the refuge.

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I'm not usually a big fan of the geese and their goslings this time of year. They make it difficult to traverse the trails as you try to avoid them and their droppings. This one gosling did prompt a smile. It had stubbornly, sat down on the trail, while the rest of the family slowly headed up the path. As I slowly advanced, it had a change of heart and went running to catch up.

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If you've been at the refuge on one of our recent hot days, you have probably seen a Great Blue Heron with extended inverted wings trying to cool itself. I saw this one up ahead on the path and slowly advanced. At one point it dropped it's beak and bowed its head. All I could think of was the minister holding open his arms and saying "Let us pray."

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