Quantcast
Skip to main content
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 5:46 pm

A close up view of the Northern water snake

post by JIM NIGRO in animals, nature, outdoors

I was walking along the edge of a meadow last week hoping for pics of butterflies and wildflowers. The last thing I expected to come across was a pair of water snakes. Very large water snakes. Both specimens stretched over 40 inches in length.

Until this day, all water snakes I've encountered were either in the water or at the edge of a lake, stream or pond, their preferred habitat. These two were more than 20 yards from a pond loaded with frogs. A stone's throw in the opposite direction is a narrow, sluggish, alga-covered stream filled with tidbits on the water snake's menu.

Okay, so this pair of snakes was a bit out of their juristiction. No big deal. But a couple of days later I came across them again in the same location. And a third time less than a week later, same thing. Oddly enough, each time I saw them, the smaller snake, if you could call it that, was nearly stretched out while the darker, obviously older snake, was tightly looped, its head hidden in the meadow grass.

Northern water snakes mate around April - June and give birth between August and October. Could the larger of the two have been a female ready to give birth. Was the other the papa or might it have been hanging around hoping for an easy meal? For what it's worth, once the offspring are born there is no nurturing, young are immediately on their own.  

The Northern water snake is active both during the day and night and their prey list quite extensive. Mice, meadow voles, crayfish, frogs, fish, birds and other snakes just to name a few. In turn, the water snake is preyed upon by hawks, owls, herons, fox and possums. On the other hand, given the size of the water snakes pictured here, they may have little or nothing to fear except man.

The meadow and nearby fallow fields, now rife with wildflowers, were teeming with ground nesting bobolinks less than two months ago. I wouldn't be surprised if this pair of well fed serpents took advantage of the nesting season and helped themselves to eggs, fledglings and perhaps adult bobolinks caught off guard. 

This is the larger of the two doing its best to remain concealed. The cloudy  appearance of its eye indicates its getting ready to shed its skin. With age, the water snake's tell-tale markings begin to fade and eventually they will appear dark brown or black.

Though non-venomous, the northern water snake is a feisty sort, it will strike when cornered and bite repeatedly if handled. The bite of large water snake can be painful and its saliva contains an anticoagulant which will cause the bite to bleed profusely. In the South they are often mistaken for copperheads and water moccassins and as a result are sometimes killed on sight.  

Monday, August 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

August blooms attract a variety of visitors

An eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly busies itself drawing nectar from the tiny lavender flowers found on teasel.

Its the time of year when roadsides and meadows are prolific with colorful flora. While many species of flowering plants are looked upon merely as weeds, for the insect kingdom they are a means of sustainment.

Here, a hummingbird moth tends to the bloom of a bull thistle. Active during the day, this is one species where the old adage, "like a moth drawn to a flame" doesn't apply.

Like its namesake, the rapid wingbeats of the hummingbird moth produce a slight buzzing sound, yet softer than that of a hummingbird.

A tree cricket explores the interior of a wild morning glory.

A bumble bee at work on a flowering burdock.

A bumble bee no sooner touches down on a Rose of Sharon blossom when it realizes it's a bit late. The bee inside is busy collecting pollen by rubbing itself against the stamen.

Friday, August 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

Wednesday Wanders

post by Judy Spring in nature, outdoors, park, recreation, walk

Discover what’s happening at Genesee County Park & Forest. We’ll walk on a variety of trails, see what flora and fauna are about, and enjoy being outdoors. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Wednesdays in September 10am -11:30am (Adult Program)

Cost: $5/person/walk or $16 for all 4 walks (paid at first walk)

Pre-Registration Required. Genesee County Park & Forest 11095 Bethany Center Rd., E. Bethany

For More Information and To Register, Call #585-344-1122

Event Date and Time

September 24, 2014 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Friday, August 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

Wednesday Wanders

post by Judy Spring in nature, outdoors, park, recreation, walk

Discover what’s happening at Genesee County Park & Forest. We’ll walk on a variety of trails, see what flora and fauna are about, and enjoy being outdoors. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Wednesdays in September 10am -11:30am (Adult Program)

Cost: $5/person/walk or $16 for all 4 walks (paid at first walk)

Pre-Registration Required.

Genesee County Park & Forest 11095 Bethany Center Rd., E. Bethany

For More Information and To Register, Call #585-344-1122

Event Date and Time

September 17, 2014 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Friday, August 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

Wednesday Wanders

post by Judy Spring in nature, outdoors, park, recreation, walk

Discover what’s happening at Genesee County Park & Forest. We’ll walk on a variety of trails, see what flora and fauna are about, and enjoy being outdoors. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Wednesdays in September 10am -11:30am (Adult Program)

Cost: $5/person/walk or $16 for all 4 walks (paid at first walk)

Pre-Registration Required.

Genesee County Park & Forest 11095 Bethany Center Rd., E. Bethany

For More Information and To Register, Call #585-344-1122

Event Date and Time

September 17, 2014 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Friday, August 1, 2014 at 10:17 am

Wednesday Wanders

post by Judy Spring in nature, park, recreation, walk

Discover what’s happening at Genesee County Park & Forest. We’ll walk on a variety of trails, see what flora and fauna are about, and enjoy being outdoors. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Wednesdays in September 10am -11:30am (Adult Program)

Cost: $5/person/walk or $16 for all 4 walks (paid at first walk)

Pre-Registration Required.

Genesee County Park & Forest 11095 Bethany Center Rd., E. Bethany

For More Information and To Register, Call #585-344-1122.

Event Date and Time

September 10, 2014 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Friday, August 1, 2014 at 10:15 am

Wednesday Wanders

post by Judy Spring in nature, park, recreation, walk

Discover what’s happening at Genesee County Park & Forest. We’ll walk on a variety of trails, see what flora and fauna are about, and enjoy being outdoors. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Wednesdays in September 10am -11:30am (Adult Program)

Cost: $5/person/walk or $16 for all 4 walks (paid at first walk)

Pre-Registration Required.

Genesee County Park & Forest 11095 Bethany Center Rd., E. Bethany

For More Information and To Register, Call #585-344-1122.

Event Date and Time

September 3, 2014 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Friday, July 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

Bobolinks: summer visitors from south of the equator

post by JIM NIGRO in bobolinks, nature, outdoors

The bobolinks have returned from their South American wintering grounds and once again nearby meadows and fallow fields are filled with their bubbly serenade. They've come from as far away as Argentina, arriving in the northern U.S. and southern Canada to raise a single brood.

Their preferred habitat provides both nesting and foraging. Here they construct their nests on the ground, well concealed amid tall grasses. And it is in these same confines where they dine on seeds and insects.

Once the mating season is over the males will molt and, like the female pictured above, will take on a more sparrow-like appearance and will migrate south in such fashion. Unlike the spring migration, the bobolink's return flight to its wintering grounds is done in much larger flocks.

Back in the day the southward migration of the bobolink included a stopover on South Carolina rice plantations where the birds gorged themselves on grain until they became plump "little butterballs." Because the males had molted, folks thought they were seeing a different species of bird and the now drab-colored bobolinks were called "butterbirds" and were shot by the tens of thousands each fall as a food source.

The bobolink was all but eradicated then, but today most of the rice fields are gone and the bobolink, like all songbirds, is a protected species.

Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 9:40 am

Nature's babies learn survival instincts at an early age

post by JIM NIGRO in nature, outdoors, whitetail fawn

It's that time of year when nature's youngsters begin coming into the world on a daily basis. This whitetail fawn has learned that remaining absolutely still and concealed is vital to its survival. A trio of us had been working a few scant feet away for nearly half an hour before noticing the newborn.

Just a few hours old, the fawn remained motionless in a residential flower bed while we spread mulch about its hideout. Once aware of its presence, we worked quickly, quietly and with little commotion as possible. Having completed the job, we moved on and the little one never flinched. No doubt mom was not far away, watching the entire time.

Friday, May 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

Songbirds & wild blooms afford splashes of spring color

The past couple of weeks have seen a significant amount of songbird activity out our way. Right on cue, orioles began showing up when the first apple blossoms began to open, no doubt attracted by the insects within.

While the petals are bright yellow, back in the day someone thought the mottled brown pattern on the green leaves of the Trout lily resembled the markings found on the back of wild brook trout....hence the name.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks have been showing up at our feeder each day for the past week or so.

A dog violet with morning dew on its petals.

An indigo bunting scans the surroundings from atop the feeder. 

Lesser celandine grows in large clusters, abundant along boggy streams and damp woodlands. As the sun begins to set, the blooms close and remain so until the sun once again begins its ascent,   

A pair of Northern flickers probing the ground for a meal.

Periwinkle, aka myrtle, sometimes used as groundcover in landscaping, is found in the wild as well.

Premium Drupal Themes