Sunday, June 08, 2008

Primal Pools Part Primero

I was driving down a dusty dirt road in Devil's Hammock Wildlife Management Area when the little blue heron caught my eye. It was slinking around in the willow shade surrounding a tiny, shrinking roadside waterhole.

My morning had been fairly unfruitful so far. I had staked out a similar, but more remote waterhole for an hour or so and failed to capture anything more exciting than the usual gator heads.
It had been a little tense in there too since the waterhole is ruled by a very big gator who was not in plain view as usual.
More on that tomorrow.

With almost nothing to show for a few hours spent stalking and sweating, I decided to pull over and see what was in the little blue heron's waterhole.

The heron flew off as soon as I exited the JEEP, but there was this graceful water moccasin swimming in the shrinking puddle. The snake completely ignored me and diligently worked, probing and seeking food in the muddy water.

(I shot a few seconds of video, but of course Blogger won't let me upload it.)

The moccasin kept her nose down most of the time, seeking whatever small creatures might be sheltering in the shallows. She was so graceful and I couldn't help thinking if more people had a chance to watch her just going about her business, instead of coiled and defensive, they might have a different view of a much maligned (but very dangerous) snake.

I tucked myself into the shady willows and knelt down,hoping some heron or egret might drop in. While I waited, the moccasin continued her hunt in front of me. A hummingbird squeaked somewhere nearby, countless big blue dragonflies buzzed , and a pileated drummed in the cypress across the roadway.
It was pretty primevally primo.
Just about the time my toes were saying, "Dude, we really need to change position", the moccasin caught a fish.
Sweet serendipity!

Again the wonder of the snake jaw is demonstrated on Pure Florida. The snake worked pretty hard to get this fish down. It took about 5 minutes of effort, and then she seemed to actually notice my presence a few feet away.

With the tip of the fish tail still showing, she turned and slipped slowly into the willow roots.

I had what I came for, a unique experience, and a handful of photos ...
So, I left too.


swamp4me said...

Absolutely beautiful. And she needs that fish to help fatten her up -- I'm not used to such slender moccasins!

Susan said...

So, when mocassins are swimming in a lake, they're looking for fish, NOT PEOPLE... ?

In Georgia, we hear stories of kids jumping out of their boat in a secluded cove, unaware of the hundreds of snakes below the surface. (Probably an urban legend, but I stay in the boat anyway.)

threecollie said... sure outdid my snake. lol
Amazing, just amazing!

Moultrie Creek said...

Don't let Blogger stop you from posting video. Flickr now allows video - up to 90 seconds per shot - and while their basic account is free, the unlimited account only costs $25 a year.

Chrisss said...

Awesome capture as usual!

lej619 said...

I had no idea that a snake ate fish. I guess he likes it boiled over fried? hehe
That is pretty darn impressive.

Anonymous said...

If I stood over a water hole for hours, I would see:
1) a seagull eating
2) a seagull doing nothing
3) a seagull pooping
4) a deer or squirrel eating or pooping
5) algae
6) sticks
7) water
8) an interesting nest. No wait, it was just a neat pile of deer poop
9) and alllllllllll those hungry mosquitoes

Beautiful work FC. Beautiful.

rick said...

There was a time any poisonous snake that crossed my path was history, but now through education (in your past blogs) I watch them and enjoy them and let them be. Must be getting soft in my old age just not as old as you though.

ImagineMel said...

why oh why oh why...please warn me of these posts before I amble through blindly. A black snake escaped death here today...simply because I was too busy making cupcakes. YUCK. (the snake, not the cupcakes)

Joe said...

Completely awesome...those are mean snakes with an attitude!

I observed a specimen at a local nature preserve about two months ago. He was resting on some lilly pads.

Anonymous said...

I'd hate to be walking through the weeds and step on that booger. Totaly cool pics.
Bro J

Freste said...

Off topic, but did Imaginemel just say CUPCAKES???


Cathy S. said...

Two weeks ago, Husband went into the garage at dusk and stepped on something hard. When he turned on the lights, it was a dead three foot rat snake with a huge buldge in his middle. We think he may have eaten a poisoned rat (the neighbor is on a poison spree because the squirrels ate his palm tree seeds). I asked husband if he cut it open to see what was inside. He didn't, but said he flung it over the fence for the neighbor to find. Maybe he will stop using the poison. I sure wouldn't want to find a water moccasin in the garage dead or alive.

Floridacracker said...

Well everything's bigger int Tex... ahem, Norcalina.

It's their primary food. Fish, not people.

Thank you. It was pretty awesome to watch.

No, no, your milksnake was amazingly lovely.

I wonder if my problems don't stem from dialup. Could be too much data?

These guys eat alot of fish, crawfish, and frogs.

You crack me up. What a list!
I find baked goods distracting also.

LOL! Yeah, not quite as old. Good of you to let them pass tho.

What flavor cupcakes?

I saw three today, ... no telling how many I passed right by.

Bro J,
You definitely need to look where you step around here.

Cathy S,
That is so sad to me. I just love those old rat snakes. Your neighbor needs to back off. I may not like squirrels much, but I sure don't poison them.
Watch your dogs. A poison squirrel could cross a fence ...

robin andrea said...

Wow! I've never seen a water moccasin, and one eating a fish is quite an amazing sight. You sure have been seeing some incredible moments lately, fc.

Floridacracker said...

This encounter made my day. I had really almost given up on anything spectacular happening in the morning heat.