I almost missed it. This nonvenomous water snake was well-hidden, wrapped around the top of a broken tree trunk which was standing out in swampy water. It was lounging in the afternoon sun, but was undoubtedly well-positioned and patiently waiting for prey.
“Position yourself well enough, and circumstances will do the rest.” ~Mason Cooley
One afternoon I went out to change the hummingbird feeders which hang up outside our back screen porch. As I started to reach across the rose bush branches to replace the bottles, I saw it. Stretched out and wrapped in neatly among the stems, lay a non-venomous gray ratsnake.
I immediately jumped back, and may or may not have let out a startled scream. As I studied the situation, a little hummingbird came and landed on a branch a few inches from the snake’s mouth. Then it hit me. This snake, which is handy to have around because it kills rodents, was probably also after the hummingbirds.
I was hoping that the snake would be scared by my presence and slither away. But it remained motionless and resolute. My husband came out and encourage him to move on.
I hoped that that would be the end of his hiding on the branches near the feeders. But the next evening, there the snake sat again. As I mulled it over during the night, I realized what I had to do. So early the next morning before the hummingbirds showed up, I went out and cut back the branches of the rose bushes which provided the snake a place to lie in wait.
This turned out to be an unpopular decision with the hummingbirds, who lost their favorite branches to perch on and guard the nearby feeders. And I do miss having a front row seat from my rocker inside the screen porch. Now after getting a drink from the feeders, they tend to fly away to bushes further out in the yard. But still, the more I think about it, the more I know it was the right choice for the hummingbirds’ survival.
I’m pretty sure that I now know why the cardinal eggs disappeared from their nest at the end of the porch a couple of weeks ago.
“Decisions are the hardest move to make, especially when it’s a choice between what you want and what is right.” ~Unknown
During the summer, it is common to see snakes at various places around the lake. Some are poisonous and some are not. Though these creatures have a certain charm and intrigue about them, my favorite way to observe them is definitely from a distance.
“Distance lends enchantment to the view.” ~Mark Twain
‘Tis the season — snake season that is. While walking to a shed in my backyard earlier in the week, I felt impressed to look back along the path I’d just walked. Glancing back, I saw this snake outstretched, with his head held high and his tongue hissing. Though not poisonous, it was, nonetheless, a bit unsettling to have such a close and unexpected encounter. Today as I walked along that path, I knew to keep a close eye out for my new found friend.
“Look back, and smile on perils past.” ~Walter Scott
While walking around the boardwalk at Reelfoot Lake, we came upon a large number of water snakes that were swirling ferverishly in the water. We were not sure at the time what we were witnessing, but have since found out that it was a breeding or mating ball. In the spring, female snakes put off a pheromone scent which attracts males. The male snakes then track the female, and a breeding ball occurs when there are many males competing over the same female. In these photos, the female is the largest snake.
And since pictures don’t do the situation justice, here is a short video clip that gives a better idea of what a breeding ball looks like.
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” ~Alfred Hitchcock