Sometimes when I go birding and carry all my camera equipment with me, I see nothing! At least that's how it seems more often than not. If I don't take my camera though, I'll have all manner of awesome birds and critters jumping around right in front of me. It's as if they know I'm camera-less. Today, however, was not one of those days. I carried my camera with me, for a walk around Lake Lafayette, but I wasn't all that bothered whether I saw anything to be honest, I just wanted some fresh air, a bit of piece and a sprinkling of serenity. Mission accomplished, except for the birds and critters that obviously thought I didn't have my camera, particularly the snakes. It was a very serendipitous morning.
|Mississippi Kite hunting dragonflies|
|Black-bellied Whistling Ducks - my first, in Leon County, of this species for five years|
|stay close to your momma baby Moorhens!|
|Eastern Rat Snake - Gray Form|
|Banded Water Snake|
|Florida Cottonmouth a.k.a Water Moccasin|
Cottonmouths and Banded Water Snakes are often confused. Easiest way to tell them apart at a glance is by looking at the head pattern. A Banded Water Snake has dark vertical stripes on its lower jaw and lacks the broad dark stripe, exhibited by a Cottonmouth, that starts at the eye and extends beyond the head. Cottonmouth's have that classic viper shape to their head but Banded Water Snakes will flatten their head to make themselves look like Cottonmouths! Clever huh? A Banded Water Snake, at least in my experience, will never rear back its head and open its mouth wide. Cottonmouths do this when threatened and if you should happen to see one do this, then you'll see why they are called Cottonmouths. If you do see one do this, I highly recommend standing out of their reach and admiring them from a distance!
This particular Cottonmouth was fairly small, no more than 2 foot long, and had no interest in making my acquaintance. I am just grateful he slowed down a little, as he crossed the trail, to allow this photograph. The northern race of Cottonmouth is much darker than the Florida race, which is orange-ish and is sometimes confused with the Copperhead. We get both races of Cottonmouth here in North Florida, but the Florida race is much more common.Cottonmouths get a bad rap from a lot of people but they're just making a living like the rest of us. They won't bother you, if you don't bother them.