Oh no! Another SNAKE!

13 May, 2018            Oh no! Another SNAKE!

My friend Sam took this picture Monday afternoon. Sometimes people react this way when they see snakes. There are snake pictures at the bottom of this blog post:

“Oh no! Another SNAKE!” – photo by Sam – excellent image Sam!


I didn’t get out much Tuesday or Wednesday – but I had a few feeder birds – and a feeder mammal – outside my window. Mackey was in an uncharacteristically central spot Wednesday morning. If you spent time with Mackey, you would understand he prefers to be a “background” dog – he’s calm and likes to observe. Oddly, he was even that way as a puppy. I’m fortunate to have this being in my life:

Mackey doesn’t like or dislike attention – he accepts whatever comes along. He has and is a peaceful soul.

This being was in my life at the same time, although outside my window. This is a Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). I’m about 85% she’s a female. She’s on the suet feeder in this image, but she was going back and forth from the seed feeder:

Female (I think) Red-bellied woodpecker, propping herself up with her tail on the suet feeder

That is a classically woodpecker pose, and there’s an adaptation to woodpeckers – all woodpeckers – that you don’t see on other birds. See how she’s using her tail feathers to prop herself up? All woodpeckers have strong tail feathers they use to support themselves while they’re pecking at trees.

I feed primarily birds, but squirrels root around out there too. And a year or two ago there was an opossum at night. Squirrels eat more of this than any other mammal. But we get chipmunks too. An adaptation that chipmunks make is they only feed near their dens. They fill up their cheeks – see picture – and take the food back to safety to eat. And to feed to their offspring. Great example:

That is a lot of food storage

If you ever had pre ground pepper, that had sat on a shelf for some time, then ground your own pepper, you know what a big difference it makes. Try the same thing with cinnamon; the difference is remarkable. We do it with nutmeg too. I eat oatmeal every morning, and every morning I grind cinnamon and nutmeg into it. This is the cross-section of a nutmeg that I’ve ground half of:

Cross section of a nutmeg

This is the bottle it came in:

This is where it came from:

My friend Marion tells me roses are meant to bloom in time for Mother’s Day. Ev continues to grow these jaw-dropping beauties in our backyard. They smell as great as they look:

It is impossible to look at this and feel in any way upset

Repeat preceding caption

These black locust flowers just finished blooming this week. It is a rare flower that smells as heavenly as a black locust. The look as beautiful as they smell:

If you missed smelling locust flowers in 2018, put it on your calendar for 2019. You’ll be glad you did.

Almost to the snake – I “got” it on Saturday. I’ll post two birds then it’s snake time. Here’s a bluebird from Deep Run Friday plus a Carolina Wren a few minutes later:

Not my best work technically, but I enjoy the pose and the color contrast

I took about 12 pictures of this wren. It just popped into the sunlight for this one.

Okay – Saturday was Snake Day. I got a carp too! But the snake came first. This is, of course, Pony Pasture, and the snake is another (possibly the same) Eastern Ratsnake. Here you can barely see the snake’s head through the undergrowth:

See its head and eye and white underbelly there between the leaves?

This video is thirty seconds long. It is not award-winning, but the first ten seconds are worth watching – it’s a crisp image. The background sounds alone are worth clicking on this one:

A very short time after I saw the snake I got to the edge of the canal – I believe it’s called “Pleasant’s Creek” – and saw this carp swimming around. It was certainly 18” long and may have been two feet:

Big carp moving up the creek at Pony Pasture

I am deeply ignorant about fish in general, and I don’t know as much as I should about carp. There’s a disparaging expression about eating carp. When you catch one, you filet it and put it on a board and put it under the broiler for about ten minutes. Then you take it out, and you throw away the carp and eat the board.

We used to catch them near a dock when we rented a houseboat at Smith Mountain Lake when I was maybe thirteen. We’d catch them with bread balls. I don’t recall whether we ate them or not. But it’s almost impossible to imagine my Mom not wanting us to eat fish we’d caught. Possibly one of my siblings will weigh in on this. Carp are big, and I know my Mom found the idea of “free food” irresistible. 

I’m going to have fish for dinner this evening – but it’s salmon, and I didn’t catch it, and neither did anybody else I know. But I love fish. I can hardly wait!

Have a great week,


PS There is no raptor in this blog post! Today is the end of the nineteenth week of the year. And I didn’t get a raptor! I could have gotten an osprey on its nest but that’s like shooting fish in a barrel. You don’t have to understand birds – you just do it, and that’s not super fun for me. I have no idea why I’m seeing so few hawks. Hopefully they’ll turn up soon. Possibly tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know next week. 

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, Carolina wren, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, Red-bellied woodpeckers, Rivers, roses, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Snakes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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