I did not start the day today knowing that it is National Reptile Awareness Day so I missed the opportunity to post this week’s reptile encounter as my pic for today. Now that I know, better late than never 🙂 Though we have lots of reptiles in southern Maine, I can go weeks without encountering one, so it is kind of special that this smallish garter snake crossed the path ahead of me at Laudholm Farms this week and stayed at the side of the path long enough for some photos.. That is pretty rare in itself. OM Systems OM-1 with ED 100-400mm zoom at various focal lengths for framing. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modificaions. Processed in Pixelmator Pro and assembled in FrameMagic.
Mugger Crocodile: Chambal River near Rathambore, Rajasthan, India, March 2023 — Besides the Gharials the Chambal is home to another crocodile…the Mugger. It lacks the long thin snout of the Gharials and is, on average, slightly smaller…though these two are certainly big enough to inspire some respect. Sony Rx10iv at 534 and 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Pro and Apple Photos. ISO 160 and 200 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Striated Heron: Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India, March 2023 — At first I thought this was a Black-crowned Night Heron which has one the widest distributions of any bird in the world, occurring on every continent (but not in Australia where is it replaced by a close relative…so close they interbreed where their ranges overlap). But the yellow eyes, as a reader pointed out, makes it a Striated Heron, with a much more restricted range. Still, as it happens I have seen the Strianted on 3 continents now. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Pro and Apple Photos. ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th. Plus 2EV.
Eyelash Pit Viper: Las Tardes Community Ecology Project, Corcovado National Park, Osa Penninsula, Costa Rica — As I mentioned in a previous post, because of high water and damaged roads up the river channel we could not take our normal tractor and trailer ride up the Recon River into Corcovado National Park, so we drove into the Las Tardes Community Ecology Project at the edge of the park. One of their projects is snake relocation. They pay local farmers to bring the snakes they encounter in their fields to them, rather than just killing them, and then, after keeping them a few days to make sure they are healthy, they relocate them deep in the park. On any given day they may have several venomous snakes ready for relocation. They brought out two Eyelash Pit Vipers for us to see and photograph: one the bright yellow we associate with the species, and this one which is quite different in color. It turns out that Eyelash Pit Vipers come in a variety of colors…and there can be any number of colors in a single hatch of eggs. Sony Rx10iv at 600 and 192mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 1600 and 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th and 1/400th.
Yellow Eyelash Pit Viper: Las Tardes, Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, December 2022 — I know not everyone likes snakes, but I was delighted to visit Las Tardes Community Ecological Project at the edge of Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, where they pay local farmers to bring them the snakes they find while working their fields…rather than killing them. They then take them deep into the park and release them. This Yellow Eyelash Viper is one of the most beautiful snakes in the world, I think, and to see it up close and in good light was a real treat. We also got to see a second Eyelash viper…larger, older, and a different color altogether. One hatch can contain snakes of different shades from the bright yellow to bright green to duller browns…but the yellows are certainly the best known and the most often photographed. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 250 @ 4 @ 1/500th.
Garter Snake, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I am always happy to see a snake on one of my hikes. I have a friend who literally always sees a snake wherever he is…but that is him, and I am me. I rarely see one. And, at least in Maine, if I do see one it is almost certainly a Garter Snake…the most common snake in Maine, and probably in the USA. Still, always delighted! This was a particularly large and pretty Garter. It must have been three feet long, and corresponding robust, and so brightly patterned that I suspect it has recently shed its skin. Or maybe it was just well polished from sliding through the undergrowth still wet from rains overnight. When it came to a ditch full of water about 5 feet across, flooded from said rains, it just skimmed over the surface. It did sink a bit as it cruised up the bank looking for a place it could slither out, but it kept its head high and dry. I was happy just to get a few photos. Sony Rx10iv. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1) at 184mm equivalent @ ISO 1000 @ f4 @ 1/400th, and 2) at 554mm equivalent @ ISO 2500 @ f4 @ 1/500th. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Assembled in FrameMagic.
Northern Black Racer: Kennebunk Plains, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — The Northern Black Racer reaches the northern limits of its range here in York County, Maine. It is on the Maine State Endangered Species List, and is a Species High Concern. There is a monitored population on the Kennebunk Plains Reserve, which is managed by the Nature Conservancy in cooperation with the state wildlife agency. It is, in fact, one of the species, along with the Northern Blazing Star plant, Upland Sandpiper, and Grasshopper Sparrow populations, and a few other endangered or threatened species, which prompted the Nature Conservancy, the Kennebunk Land Trust, and the state of Maine to preserve the Plains. Black Racers are not easy to see…they are secretive and keep under cover much of their lives. Wildlife and Inland Fisheries has a radio tagging study on the Kennebunk Plains, and I have bumped into the researchers a few times. Even with radio tags the snakes are hard to find. I did not find this one. I just happened to be there when a gentleman…and amateur herpetologist…was releasing this snake where he had captured it the day before. He had taken it home to treat some wounds on its belly (perhaps from a hawk encounter) and to show it to his son, who had never seen one. I am not condoning this behavior…it is both illegal and in my opinion unwise (especially when it comes to endangered species)…something this gentleman was well aware of. To be fair, he was very conscientious about handling the snake with care…and the snake did not seem to be any worse for the experience. And, since I don’t go around turning over logs on the Plains (or anywhere for that matter) I would not have seen this snake any other way. (I have seen one Black Racer before on the Plains…but that was a chance encounter…and once out of many hundreds of visits to the Plains over the past 20 years.) This was not a big racer…though compared to the size of the head (about the size of my thumb) it was a very long snake (likely five feet or more). Like most constrictors its body, with it smooth scales, just exudes power. And, once sure of its footing after release, it demonstrated how apt its name is by racing, about as fast as my eye could follow, for the deep cover of a low stand of dense brush. Nikon B700 at 370mm, 140mm, and 445mm to frame the snake. Shutter program at 1/640th. ISO 220. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
I am falling behind…not because I am not posting every day, but because I am taking too many photos 🙂 Not a bad problem to have. Of course a string of rainy days might cure that, but for now, I am going to group this set taken at the same location on the same outing: I rode my trike out to Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains near home here in Maine, to see how spring was coming along. We have the Plains landscape on the way into the pond at 24mm equivalent (all with the Sony Rx10iv, this one with HDR, and the rest with my birds and wildlife modifications to Program), a Northern Water Snake (one of the largest I have ever seen) at 465mm, Dogwood in bloom against a stand of white birch at 24mm, two Painted Turtles sharing what appears to be a tender moment (but probably was not really) at 600mm, and Eastern Pine Elfin at 600mm and about 3 feet (this is a tiny butterfly, about 1/2 inch across). In leaner times I might have stretched this out over 5 posts, as each shot has an interest of its own. (I did already post the Elfin to some of the Butterfly groups on Facebook, but it belongs here too, in the context of the the visit to Day Brook Pond.)
I apologize to those of you who don’t like snakes…but I think this is the largest Northern Water Snake I have ever seen and deserves some celebration. I was looking for Odonata and wildflowers along the edge of the pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk when I spotting this snake swimming along the edge of a little peninsula-like extension of the shore about 10 yards from me. It proceeded to turn and swim right toward me, across the shallow little bay full of vegetation, passing in front of me at a about 10 feet. It had to be 6 feet long and maybe 4 inches through its thickest section. A big water snake. I was busy zooming in and out to frame the snake and I shifted my feet on the spongy moss underfoot. It disappeared in a sudden dive under the vegetation…so I am pretty sure it had not been aware of me until just that moment. Sony RX10iv at 600mm and 244mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
This is neither Florida or Ohio. 🙂 With spring finally in the ascendancy here in Southern Maine, the Water Snakes (Northern) have come out to sun along the shore of Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area. This young fellow, only half the size to the biggest I have seen in the pond, was making use of the fallen birch over the water. This is a common posture…they raise their head even when stretched out, and certainly when swimming, probably for better vision.
Sony RX10M3. 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/320th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom.