Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Look down, lady!"

Frogfruit
Yesterday morning, I had some free time before our monthly Texas Master Naturalist meeting in Kingsland. So I grabbed my camera and headed outside to shoot wildflowers. Frogfruit, lantana in the front yard. American beautyberry in the back.
Lantana
I was leaning over the beautyberry, trying to focus on a bee, when I heard a chickadee fussing behind me. I turned around and found the little bird, perched mid way down our chain-link fence. A titmouse showed up, too. They both seemed bothered about something. I glanced around but didn't see anything. So I went back to shooting the beautyberry.

However, the chickadee still fussed at me. A house finch landed on an oak branch over me. Maybe a baby bird's on the ground? I glanced around some more. Nothing.

Finally, I walked a ways down a flower bed that parallels the fence, still looking around. Nothing. As I stood there, perplexed, a juvenile robin landed atop the fence with its back to me. For several seconds, it looked straight down. And I mean STRAIGHT DOWN at the ground! 


FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, LOOK DOWN, LADY! LOOK DOWN!

"OK, OK!" I laughed. "I'll look some more!"

I walked over to our gate and leaned against the fence, looking hard all over the ground on both sides of the our fence. 


OH! NOW I GET IT!
American beautyberry
There on the ground, very still and well camouflaged, lay an eastern hognose snake! I snapped a quick photo and then hollered for James.
You can see why I kept missing this snake on the ground...
Don't get freaked out, but we were excited to find this guy! He (or she?) may be one and the same that a friend in our neighborhood gave us several years ago. This is the first time we've seen a hognose since releasing that one in September 2009.


He's flattening out....
 Eastern hognose snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) act deadly but are nonvenomous. Their defensive behavior includes: puffing up and hissing like an adder, lunging like an adder, convulsing and playing dead, and even pooping. 
I'm a deadly cobra...get away from me. Ha, we knew better!
After a brief visit, our hognose friend slithered into a nearby brush pile. I'm sure the birds aren't happy with me, but diversity's a good thing to have in a Texas Wildscape.
  

7 comments:

sandy lawrence said...

That's exciting! I'll bet (s)he is the same one you released. Funny little birds ... Thanks for these great photos. I've never seen a hognose puff up, so this is a treat. As an aside, I'm not seeing many baby snakes this spring. I wonder why?

MagneticJOY said...

Love it! Great that you knew better, but how precious the birds enacted their own warning system for you! :-)

MagneticJOY said...
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Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Snakes seem to prefer to stay out of the way, Sandy. Guess they know how much they're disliked by most (not us!). And yes, those birds just HATE HATE HATE snakes. For good reason. They eat bird eggs and baby birds.

Colleen said...

Those are such beautiful blooms, Sheryl, and that snake, well lets just say running and screaming would have been the natural reaction in our Sunfield Community Garden. Although we have been trying our best to keep it critter free!

We just posted about keeping out the Texas heat too at http://www.sunfieldtx.com/blog.html

Martha Herden said...

Sheryl-
Well at least I know what this type of Snake looks like, but ANY snake scares me and sends me running away from it!

You are one Brave Woman! Glad you Looked Down!

Martha

james hearn said...

Up date on the snake. A year later we saw five young hog-nosed snakes coming out a hole at the base of an old oak tree in our meadow. It looked sort of evil to see them all slither out of their den. We are guessing snake Sheryl took the picture of might have been pregnant. Beautiful snake! You just want to hug it don't you! :)

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