As I mentioned in a previous post, springtime is snake time.
On Saturday, Kelly and I decided to take a short trip down the highway for a little warmwater fly fishing at a creek in north Mississippi. It turns out the fishing wasn't so hot. We saw fish, a few really nice ones actually, but only managed a handful of small Crappie and a single Bluegill between the two of us. (Official count: Kelly- 4, Jay- 1, but who's counting?)
It was the warmest day of the year thus far (temps in the high 80s), but I wasn't really expecting to see many snakes out and about. Lately, the weather here has been erratic to say the least. Forty degree temperature swings in less than 24 hours have caused some serious storms, and I wasn't sure if the snakes would be convinced that spring has really sprung.
I was very wrong.
We walked several miles of trail adjacent to the creek, and when you cover a lot of ground in the South during spring you're bound to cross paths with a snake... or two... or more.
In total we found nine snakes, which is probably more than some people will see in an entire season spent in the great outdoors. Like I've said before, the South is a "snakey" place... and our outing Saturday illustrates my point quite well.
Saturday snake summary:
- 3 Blackmask Racers (Coluber constrictor latrunculus)- some really big ones, the first one I caught chewed up my right thumb pretty good... which really just added insult to injury, because I cut my middle finger on my left hand really badly Friday afternoon while working around the house... oops. Note to self: take better care of your hands... they're pretty useful.
- 2 Speckled Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula holbrooki)- a huge male, the biggest I've ever seen in the wild, looking for love from a female half his size who was headed down a hole in the ground. I extracted her from her subterranean refuge... easier said than done.
- 2 Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos)- the ones we saw were melanistic, but normal... and not like this one. I haven't seen a live Hognose in the wild in quite some time, so this was a special treat. The Hognose Snakes I've seen recently have either been in captivity or dead on road (DOR).
- 1 Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma)- sitting right on the trail and not the least bit afraid of us. As tempting as it was, I decided not to "take up serpents"... probably a good choice.
- 1 Yellowbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster)- I mentioned to Kelly that I really wanted to find a water snake to complete the day... so... she dropped (read "lost") her fly box on the trail for me to go back and find it. She couldn't possibly know for sure that I would find my desired water snake... but if it wasn't for her providing me the opportunity to walk two miles unnecessarily, I wouldn't have seen it. Thanks, babe.
|Blackmask Racer gathering chemosensory information.|
|Kelly shows off a pair of Speckled Kingsnakes.|
|Cottonmouth showing off how they got their name.|
|Contemplating "taking up serpents."|
... and for the first time on The Naturalist's Angle, video for your "edutainment"...
My Youtube channel is "FlyFishingNaturalist", and there will be more to come. Hopefully, there will be a fishing video uploaded sometime soon.
Even though the fish weren't really biting, we still had a great time. Just remember, if the fishing is slow, snaking might just save the day.