Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Garter snake visits my pond

It was a fascinating visitor that came to the pond the other day... I'm just getting it organized and was working away at placing plants that had overwintered under some mulch. I stood up and as I did was startled by this yellow and black striped fellow who came to check out what was happening.

I stood and watched as he reached out his muscular body to the water iris that was just showing signs of green. His wee tongue (or maybe it was her tongue) didn't flicker in and out as I've seen other snakes do, testing the air and my hand and other creatures for smells and tastes, determining eligibility for food I assume as well as friend or foe. Instead the snake held its tongue extended for about half a minute while just the end moved slightly not quite touching the plant but slowly up and down as if measuring. It was a fascinating experience. I had my camera in hand by that time and it was so absorbed it didn't dart away so I got a good photograph.

Finally I moved and the snake slid into the water. I was a bit worried for a couple of frogs that have taken up residence and for the goldfish, but while one small frog attracted its attention, the frog simply jumped away and dove to the bottom of the pond, reappearing elsewhere along the edge after a few minutes.

While I watched for quite a while, I had other things I needed to do and so left the snake swimming along the edge of the pond, returning later to see all was calm. I expect it may return. There was a much smaller one last year that showed up briefly. They don't seem to hang around long since they are pretty exposed and there are lots of snake enemies that would easily choose it for a meal around and about, including hawks and other birds.

It was interesting to watch though and I thought about my many friends who don't like snakes and wouldn't have stopped to watch, maybe even tried to kill it. I'm fortunate that though I was once frightened by them, somehow I learned more and made myself touch one or two when the chance arose. It helped me to understand them a little better. I'm so very fortunate that there is often something new to learn about a visitor to my small piece of ground. Perhaps you'll have the chance as well to learn or observe something new today?


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