Friday, September 30, 2011

Today in the car I noticed a small snake shed in the center console, and then I accidentally dropped it between the console and the seat. Maybe we'll find it the next time we vacuum out the car.

Tony Croasdale, naturalist, environmental educator, field biologist, and birder extraordinaire, had pocketed the shed as we were very gingerly hiking around a rookery spot in the mountains, a spot where gravid female timber rattlers (Crotalus horridus) spend the summer basking, give birth, spend a week or two with the babies, and then when the babies shed the party sort of breaks up. The females wander away, drifting back to the den where they spend the winter, and the babies follow behind. The shed...

...was from one of the little babies, a few of which we saw catching some rays.

Only one adult was hanging around, and it looked absolutely awful.
Of course it was too thin, and look at that eye. Dear lord. I really was tempted to take it home, drain that thing, and get it some antibiotics, but I don't think it was worth the mortal risk, I didn't have anything to take it home in, and I'd be breaking the law.

We saw a couple healthier adults a few hundred yards away, near where I think they spend the winter. They weren't easy to spot (saw them on either the second or third pass by that rock), but I saw one either withdrawing or thinking about coming out - hard to tell.

See it? (yes this is one of those annoying 'find the snake' photos)

Here's the other one, resting its head on a leaf, and basking with just its front few inches.

We did one more walk that I really should have planned differently. Never leave the mile-long, steep, uphill part for the end of the day, when you're already exhausted but have no choice but hike out to get to your car.

We saw next to nothing on this schlep, but here's a cute skink (Eumeces fasciatus) hunting around this boulder.