Venomous snake video, my first fox, more

24 September, 2017            Venomous snake video, my first fox, more

A surprising number of people (I’m learning) are unfond of Copperhead snakes (Agkistrodon contortrix). I got some pictures and a video of one Friday at Deep Run Park in western Henrico. I’ll put them later so you can bail out if you have an irrational fear of snakes. I suspect no one has any fear, irrational or otherwise, of Evelyn’s gardenias. This one is enormous – and you can smell it from an enormous distance. Check it out compared to my Kroger card. Full sized Kroger card, not key-chain size:

I did not even know they made gardenias this big. Totally a State Fair Gardenia. You can probably smell it from your house.

I had a “good gardenia problem” earlier this week. Our front gardenia had five open blooms at the same time, and I couldn’t get them all in one picture. “Too many gardenias to fit in one picture” – that’s a good problem. The floral version of “too much chocolate.”

I took my lens cap off on six days this week, and I photographed gardenias – in our yard – on five of them. There are other flowers too, but the most noticeable are the gardenias and these gleaming nasturtiums:

Everything else fades in the background

Roses! How could I forget roses! They’re still going full power as well. The reason I forget roses is I never get a picture I like. The color never comes out looking real. I take a lot of pictures but I remain an amateur in many ways. Like getting color correct. But have a look:

Maybe if I’d read a photography book for once in my life I could get this color more realistic. They are beyond compare.

My flying lessons are progressing steadily. Getting off the ground, you could say. I finished my seventh lesson early this afternoon, but my longest lesson (in the air) has only been 1.2 hours (an hour and 12 minutes) and I’ve had one as short as a half hour. They’ll get longer as I gain skill and confidence as a pilot. It’s still early days but I’m learning fast. This is N5335J, a 2003 Cessna 172S, the plane I fly in most. I flew in it today, and this is a picture I took on Thursday:

Cessna 172, fun and beautiful and comfortable and forgiving

I’ll wait until later in this post for the copperhead. This morning (Sunday, 9/24/2017), Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I headed for Pony Pasture. As we pulled into the parking lot at 8:30, a Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was jogging casually along the southeast edge of the lot, headed west. There were twenty cars in the lot. Plus hikers, joggers, dog walkers, more. I noticed it moving and kept my eye on it. I snapped a few pictures from the car but nothing great. Here’s the only one I got. I’ll do better. Unfortunately it has mange:

Red fox with mange, Pony Pasture parking lot, 8:30 this morning

We were in the parking lot visiting with that fox until 8:40 this morning. We wandered down the river bank and up the creek for 55 minutes until we came over a hill between the Wetlands and Willow Oaks golf course and were greeted by this pretty girl. With at least one youngster visible in the upper right: 

Adult whitetail and at least one youngster near the eastern edge of Pony Pasture this morning

Fortunately all three dogs are on leashes and fortunately I anticipate the lunge. Because the three of them combined outweigh me by forty pounds and if they decided to have a closer look at that deer, I’d be outvoted. This was about ten minutes later, when we’d put the deer behind us and got in the woods and caught our breath. You can hardly see Mackey in this picture (he’s in the center). But if you ever met Mackey, you’d be able to tell right away he kind of likes it that way. I’ve never known a dog that thrives on being in the background as much as Mackey does. He’s always there but he’s never in the way:

Yuki, Mackey, Turner

Attention: this copperhead – like the copperhead I photographed in April – is not from Pony Pasture. It’s from Deep Run Park in western Henrico. Deep Run is much more “civilized” – much more contrived, lots of asphalt, playgrounds, swing sets, soccer fields, lights, signs, fountains, etc. It’s the reduced-fat generic vanilla ice cream of parks.  In Pony Pasture, you can be in true wilderness. Deep Run, not so much. But I see way more venomous reptiles there than anyplace else. 

Well, I’m not prejudiced against reptiles, so here’s another copperhead from Deep Run Park in western Henrico. I’d been on the same trail precisely 21 weeks earlier (on April 28, 2017) when I encountered The first poisonous snake I’ve ever photographed. The one I got on Friday (9/22) was much smaller and much, much edgier. It was cooler in April and that snake was unmistakably calm. Calm people, calm dogs, calm snakes, calm birds, they all have a similar, unmistakable posture, a way of gazing at the planet that lets you know in an instant they don’t feel threatened. So they’re not threatening. The snake Friday was much different – it was radiating anxiety. I wasn’t putting my camera or my phone or my feet or my hands anywhere near it. Copperheads are super-photogenic, though. This is the snake as it was crossing the edge of the trail:

Copperhead leaving the trail at Deep Run

This is it a bit further from the edge:

Clear of the trail:

Closeup (with a zoom lens!) of the head:

Closeup (using a zoom lens!) of the copperhead’s business end:

I’m also adding a picture I took standing up with my phone. This camouflage is peerless. I wonder how often we all walk past these snakes. Look in the precise center of this image:

Look very carefully at the center of this image, the copperhead is right there

Here’s the video. This snake was so cooperative. Scary but cooperative:

Now for something a bit more civilized – gardenias Evelyn cut and put on our back porch table:

Evelyn fills and surrounds our home with beauty. Even when your eyes are closed!

Did I mention I went to the river this morning? I’ll leave you with this – taken ten minutes walk downstream from where we photographed the fox:

I apologize to viewers who tire of this sight – I just never will. Looking at that makes a lot of things better.

Have a great week! Enjoy this weather! Come back next week! All best,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, copperhead, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, Gardenias, James River, Pony Pasture, Rivers, roses, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Snakes, whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Venomous snake video, my first fox, more

  1. Sheila Wiese says:

    I need Evelyn’s green thumb at my house!!! Those flowers are gorgeous!!

  2. They’re spectacular, and those gardenias smell amazing. I’m sure they’d thrive in SC, in MA not so much. The roses I suspect would look wonderful in either place. She would make it happen!

  3. Patti G says:

    Jay, you are the first person I know to write – dare I say, poetically? – about snakes! But like a true nature lover, you helped even this snake-phobic person understand that even reptiles have moods / personalities?! “The one I got on Friday (9/22) was much smaller and much, much edgier. It was cooler in April and that snake was unmistakably calm. Calm people, calm dogs, calm snakes, calm birds, they all have a similar, unmistakable posture, a way of gazing at the planet that lets you know in an instant they don’t feel threatened. So they’re not threatening. The snake Friday was much different – it was radiating anxiety.” Wondering if the dogs reacted similarly, with more alertness, anxiety, caution, etc.?

    • okilloran says:

      P.S. I skipped quickly by the photo….

    • Thank you! I was channeling (to the extent I’m able) my inner Peter Matthiessen. His 1978 book “The Snow Leopard” guides me more than any other book. He befriends a mysterious Tibetan porter named Tukten. Matthiessen writes of Tukten that “…at supper, he regards me with that Bodhisattva smile… this is the gaze he shares with the wild animals.” That book had a powerful impact on me. I ended up reading Matthiessen’s full catalog, he is a prolific writer. Matthiesssen was in the CIA, ate LSD, and became a Buddhist priest. And was as elegant a writer as you’re ever likely to read.

  4. Pingback: Two Presidents, one church, no politics, no religion | NEWFAZE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s