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Monday, June 13, 2011

Backyard Wildlife

It was a mixed bag, for a Monday. We did some TV-watching (DVDs of Marty Stouffer's Wild America), the kids worked on their respective "clubhouses" (note to self: must photograph those!), Mom did some chores. It was late in the afternoon when I decided that we needed to Go Outside And Play in the gorgeous low 70s, light-breeze weather. So despite the fact that we were closing in on the Witching Hour (when I attempt to simultaneously prepare dinner and get cleaned/dressed for a short evening shift at work), we jumped into the car and headed to our closest public park. One with a creek. I figured even if we didn't have much time, we could at least maximize our fun with a little exploration.

It didn't take the kids long to find something. T waded into a deeper area, and C followed a few yards behind. We spotted some large-ish minnows (about 4 inches) darting in between the boys' ankles, seeking shelter, and that tickled us plenty. Then T spotted it: a snakeskin.

He got a branch and fished for it. I tried to catch up from the bank, armed with a bit of cautious parental skepticism. After all, this is a public park and I could think of a few unsavory items that might be mistaken as a "snakeskin" by an overly excited young naturalist. But sure enough, he was right.

So we had a little fun speculating, and a little discussion over whether it would be a good souvenir to take home (he eventually decided that I was right; it wouldn't hold up for long). Then C spotted a fish! Yeah, we know...we saw the fish. No, he insisted...look at the big silver fish!

Um...look at what's holding that fish.

We'd found the snake. It was really gorgeous. I don't know enough about local reptiles to have identified it, and perhaps I will soon from these photos, but I figured it would be just as well to post the story with its name still a mystery. It was about 4 feet long, and the fish it had caught was about 6 inches long. Very impressive for this shallow, narrow waterway. It spent some time holding the still-struggling fish above water, but got spooked by our excited shouts and swam around until it found cover.

At which point we noted the time and headed for the car, armed with a really great story to tell Dad over dinner. :)

ETA: I did manage to identify this creature as a Northern Water Snake. Non-venomous. ;)


  1. I imagine this is what little boys dream of!

  2. OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! I'm wondering about either a Cottonmouth or rattler of some sort. OMG! OMG! OMG! I'm so glad it had a fish in its mouth and was otherwise occupied! OMG! OMG! OMG! (Can you tell I have a phobia about snakes?)

  3. Whoa! That's some exploration! Is it a water snake? I think both boys should get extra credit (1 found the skin, the other spotted the snake!) and mom gets kudos for a great blog!!

  4. Neato! Looks like a plain watersnake. Poisonous snakes have broader heads. Now that you know where he lives, you'll have to check on him periodically. Hope no one hurts him.

  5. Oh God. I had a bad experience with snake. This photography reminds me of that day.