Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Don't Be So Defensive!

1st Line of Defense:  Rapid tail rattling on the ground and coiled position.

2nd Line of Defense:  Quick strikes, and a bite

3rd Line of Defense:  Poop, and poop some more!

I feel it has been a good night when I have been bitten once and pooped on twice:)  I went on a third night hike tonight, but ended up rescuing snakes from the middle of the road along a stretch of canal.  The night air was a bit cool, so they were definitely trying to soak in some heat.  Two fox snakes the length of my arm and a small garter snake were removed from the road before getting run over.  The first one that bit me would have been dead had I not stopped to grab it.  A car was just turning the corner to watch me snatch it up.  He would have been mashed for sure.  I don't blame him for biting me.  I came out of nowhere and just grabbed him.  I would have bit me too:)

Gorgeous Fox Snakes

A Small Common Garter Snake (pooped on me too)

Other Night Time Highlights

Two Rabid Wolf Spiders (Rabidosa rabida)

Leaf Footed Bug (Family Coreidae) 

Oh, and yes, the new headlamp worked out great.  Black Diamond Icon, 200 lumens, etc.  Awesome!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Night Hike Again

At dusk, I was greeted by the best sound in nature....coyote's howling!  I love to listen to them communicate.  Two packs were going back and forth, one of which was quite close to me.  I just turned my headlamp off, sat on the ground and listened.  It sounded like the pack closest to me had some pups in it, but without seeing them, it is difficult to tell.  I would love to know what each yip and howl means.

Coyotes are much better looking!

As stated in my post last night, the reason for going out on night hikes for me is to find snakes, and tonight I did find one!  A gorgeous Western Fox Snake was hunting along the canal path just in time for me to see it.  He wasn't too happy with me, but he posed for a couple of shots and went on his merry way.  Fox snakes are harmless, although they do bite.  When threatened, they rapidly vibrate their tail on the ground or leaf litter.  Mimicking a rattlesnake is a great way to ward off predators, but it is unfortunately a great way for them to die.  People kill them on site, not only because they are a snake, but because they think it could be a rattler.  Very unfortunate, even if it was a rattlesnake. 

I would imagine that this little guy was after the main food source that I am seeing along the path......frogs!  Little bullfrogs are everywhere.  I'm actually surprised that I am not seeing more snakes simply because of this readily available food source.  Here's a couple more photos to add to last night's frog pics.

Until tomorrow night.....yes I will be out again.  I have a new headlamp coming tomorrow, so I can't wait to test it out:)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Night Hike

It's time to start patrolling the canal at dusk and dark.  As it begins to get cooler, the snakes will begin laying on the paved walkway to get some heat.  Tonight it was not quite cool enough, but still I had a very nice hike.  Mr. Beaver greeted me 3 or 4 times with the thundering slap of the tail, and my face is still covered with spider webs crossing the trail as I walked.

I love the night sounds!  They really get the imagination going, although I take more pride in knowing exactly what is making a sound without seeing it.  It is really a learning experience to turn the light off and just hike by moonlight.

Anyway, enough babbling!  There really wasn't much to see tonight, but I did get a couple of different young bullfrogs on jpg.

I also stumbled across this whole opossum skeleton along the trail.  It is odd that it was on the canal trail, and away from the road.  It always amazes me when something like this completely decays without being disturbed.  I guess I would not eat opossum either:......or would I? :))

More night hiking trips to come.  Hopefully some snakes will grace me with their presence, as well as some tree frogs.  Anything will do, as long as it makes a decent picture.