Lurking in the Shadows…
Since my work schedule for today included hours late into the night, I took some time this morning to paddle on the Wapsipinicon River. Generally I consider myself to be pretty good at spotting wildlife at a long distance and then paddling close enough to make decent images. Apparently today I was not having my best day.
First I missed not one, but two great blue herons perched in trees. I am wondering if the two herons are somehow related (parent/young or siblings) since I often see two herons together and when one leaves, the other follows with both of them squawking the great blue heron squawk.
Not too far from the missed great blue herons I did not see an adult bald eagle perched in a tree until I paddled under it and the bird flew away. That was very disappointing since the location and lighting would have made a good shot.
Then I came across the subject referred to in the title of this post. I was paddling along the shaded side of the river to increase the likelihood of me seeing something before it sees me. Without making much noise, I made my way down the river. As I passed very near a downed tree I noticed a large (many feet in length and many inches around!) northern water snake. Seeing this snake should not have been a surprise, but it was – partially because I almost missed seeing it and because of its large size. What made the interaction more interesting was the snake, as I approached, did not remain still or attempt to escape. No, this snake curled back and crawled toward the very front of my kayak with its forked tongue sampling the air. I want to think the snake was curious. I do not want to think the snake was aggressive, but I guess I will never know. When the snake continued to approach I backed up. I am not afraid of snakes, but I do respect them, especially when they are moving toward me instead of away from me.
Something that struck me as odd was the lighting. Usually my water snake images are routine. Today, however, with the play of light and shadows I was able to record a snake image that I find pleasing. In fact, the final photo in this series is now the picture on my computer screen.
Northern Water Snake:
Downstream a short distance I spotted this bullfrog clearly visible in the open. Until today I thought it to be risky for the frogs to be in plain sight. But, when I think like a frog might think, it may make sense to be in the open. Any snakes that are approaching would be easily visible, versus if an unsuspecting frog was hidden in the shadows near a hungry snake. You can imagine who might win that battle.
One risk that I can think of for frogs out in the open is an avian attack. I suppose they are watching for threats from all directions, so a bird should be challenged too.
This was the bullfrog I found this morning.