Monday, June 6, 2011

The Wild Life

Given that this place is rural and there is water and grown up areas, I'm always on the lookout for things that I need to be aware exist.  We suspected there would probably be snakes, but all anyone has reported seeing are of the non poisonous type-thankfully.  We hadn't seen any snakes while we had been working, but one day Donnie announced that there were snakes and pointed to one about 5 ft from where he was standing.  I had to investigate-and of course take pictures so I could get an ID on it.  After a quick study, it was easily determined that it wasn't poisonous, so I left it alone-well other than blinding it with several flash-pops, of course.  It was just a garter snake-good for controlling pests.

Is he-or she-adorable or what???  Look at that little face.  What an expression!



A few weeks ago, the cats and I discovered the prettiest snake I've ever seen hanging out at the edge of the pond.  I didn't recognize it at all and by the time I went back to the house for the camera, he/she was gone, but I took careful note of what it looked like so I could try to identify it.  Like the garter snake, this one didn't have the characteristics of a venomous snake.  After surfing snake pictures for days, I eventually discovered what it was; a midland water snake.  Never heard of it, but it was beautiful.  There are several different kinds and colors of these guys, but this is the best pic I could find on Google of the one I saw.

(image from http://www.cochranmillnaturecenter.org/i/400s/Midland_Water_Snake_400.jpg)

One of the cats tipped me off to this little guy as well.  It appears to be a rat snake, but I'm not positive.  I've seen plenty of them before and they're harmless.  I took him across the road and let him go in a field of tall grass.  Hopefully, he enjoys it there since the cats would probably have a little fun with him before dropping him off at the door to the house.  He was about as big around as an ink pen.



Our wanderings at the pond at night is a good time to visit the frogs since they seem to be comatose after dark.  This is one of the many that live along the edge near the same willow tree where we discovered the water snake.  I did a little poking around and the best conclusion that I could come up with is that he's a bullfrog.  Duh!


There are also several turtles that live here.  If you move quietly, you can see them hanging about during the day.  There are turtles of every size.  This one likes to sun himself on the bank across the pond.  They must have excellent hearing though, because every time I approach the pond, he knows it and goes in for a swim.  He must have been feeling lazy this day as I was able to get a shot or two of him, or maybe her.  I zoomed in from about 75 ft, so the quality isn't very good.  I met him or one of his pals the other evening when he was out of the water and blazing down the tractor trail that goes into the neighbor's field.  We had a nice chat and he stayed outside his shell while we checked each other out.  That one looked like a snapping turtle, but I can't tell about the one basking on the side of the pond.  I thought there were 3 or 4 turtles living in there, but that day I counted at least 11 heads of various sizes sticking up out of the water. 


Yesterday morning I looked out the kitchen window and spotted either a huge white heron or maybe an egret.  Are they the same?  I'll have to investigate that further.  I was in the middle of something and couldn't go get a better look and he flew away before I had the chance.  I've seen him around before, but can't quite pin down his markings to figure out what he is.  A couple of bluish water fowl flew through here this morning as well, but didn't stop. They were probably headed toward the small river nearby where I think they hang out.

The cats caught a giant rat somewhere the other day and dragged it into the carport which I found totally disgusting.  Between the mob of cats, I guess they ate the whole thing.  I won't go into the creepy details. Eeewww.

So, the wild life around here is pretty much the local wildlife.  I've been learning to better identify our 3 venomous snakes and their behavior.  I'll share what I learned sometime as it's good to know.  Did you know it is illegal to kill a snake in this state?  That was a new one on me.  I generally let them live since they eat nuisance pests, so I guess I won't be going to jail anytime soon...for snake-killing anyway. :)

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