April 12, 2019
We arrived home to Michigan yesterday evening from our two and a half month hiatus in warm, sunny Florida. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining, snowing or hailing when we arrived home (as would have been typical for Michigan), but it was cold enough for me to put on a winter jacket when we unloaded the car! The rains came later!
Today, I had hoped to get everything unpacked, washed and put away before going for a bit of a picture walk at the end of the day. By day’s end, I had successfully completed most of my ‘TO DO’ list, but the picture walk almost didn’t happen. It had been so incredibly windy all day long that I wasn’t sure whether the birds would even be out and about on such a day—and, if they were out, how would I ever be able to hold my camera steady enough (with the 600mm lens) to take their picture?
I can’t say that the wind ever died down completely, but it did let up now and then– so I was able to capture a few familiar sights on my ‘welcome back’ walk through the woods around our neighborhood. The ‘welcoming committee’ for this walk included several deer, a few robins and cardinals, a pair of wood ducks, several Canadian Geese, a few squirrels, an Eastern Phoebe, a Downy Woodpecker and a Yellow-rumped Warbler, otherwise known as a ‘butter butt’! It was a much better turnout than I ever expected given the weather!
Before making our long car trip back to Michigan, though, we had stopped to visit friends in North Carolina who invited us on a couple of hikes through two local preserves. The most notable discovery on these two hikes was a very long black rat snake slithering straight up a tree!
I’d never seen a snake do that before and was curious about how that was even possible. Here’s what I found out…
“Snakes use “concertina locomotion” to climb trees – the act of gripping with some parts of the body while pulling or pushing with other parts of the body in the general direction of movement. This push/pull motion is made possible by scales that are keeled, or ridged. Unlike smooth scales, keeled scales have raised ridges on the center of each scale which enables the snake to get a grip on rough surfaces, much like a tire with a good tread grips the road better than a bald tire.”
Once this snake made it up to a branch and settled in for a few minutes, he opened his mouth extremely wide and appeared to be yawning– so I looked up information about snakes yawning.
“One reason snakes ‘yawn’ is to prepare themselves for a hearty meal, especially when their prey is considerably larger than their head!”
This snake, however, did not appear to have any prey in view, so I looked for another reason.
“A more recently discovered reason for mouth gaping is that it allows them to pick up chemical cues from their environment like many mammals in the animal kingdom.”
Maybe he was picking up chemical cues from all the human creatures staring up at him and taking pictures!!