Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Cold Weather Blues

It's been a very odd spring here in the great white north. After a week and a half straight of 70s and 80s near the end of March, we have only had a few days over the 60 degree mark in April. The weather seems to be stuck in a pattern of low 50s during the day and low 30s at night. This has been frustrating as it had made finding snakes quite a challenge, particularly massasaugas. After a few days of rain and cold, the sun finally peaked out on a Saturday afternoon with temps forecasted to reach the low 50s. I wouldn't normally make an effort to find snakes in such cool temperatures, but because of the weather the three previous days I was hopeful that the sun might bring some stuff out. On my way to one of my favorite sites, I noticed this beast crossing the road.

Blue Racer - Coluber constrictor foxii 

It is always a great sight to see one of these on the road without being hit, usually the latter is the most common fashion in which they are seen on or near roads. Encouraged by this big snake on the move in weather with temperatures still in the high 40s, I reached my location and set out. Within a few minutes I head another snake in hand, a smaller adult which was basking near a rodent burrow.

After a few bites, I managed to snap a few photos of this snake. This snake showed some broken scales and other scars, likely due to a predator. However it seemed to be in excellent health besides the few minor knicks on its flanks. While I was finishing photographing the snake, I heard a characteristic snake rustle and looked to see another Blue Racer periscoping about twenty feet behind me. I quickly left the snake and apprehended the sneaky peeping tom which had interrupted my photo session.

 Blue Racer - Coluber constrictor foxii

This individual was much more blue than the previous two snakes and had a very noticeable rusty-red snout. After a quick photo session, I headed off to another patch of field within the area in hopes of seeing some more racers or a hognose snake if I was lucky. Although no Heterodon made an appearance today, I heard a noise as I was basking a small tree and looked over to see this staring back at me.

I'm unsure whether this snake was basking in the tree the entire time of if I had scared him into it as I was passing by, but I've seen racers exhibit both behaviors in the past. I snapped a few shots and then continued on, less than a minute later I spotted another one basking in an open sandy area.

Racers were in so short supply on the afternoon, I ended up seeing a grand total of 7 live and one DOR. I won't complain about seeing this species as they can become particularly difficult to see and get in hand later in the year as temperatures and grasses rise. Although the temperatures were fairly chilly, it didn't stop these guys from getting out for a little sun. I'll close with one of my favorite shots of the year so far. As I was photographing the snake I found crossing the road earlier in the post, it decided to stop in its bath and hold its ground. I love the attitude of this species.

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