Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, January 08, 2010

Colour theme for today - Black and Red

The day started slowly, with a scheduled early start for birdwatching cancelled out, and the morning was grey anyway, so I went back to sleep. I then went down to the village for lunch, and arranged to go out to the Budderoo Plateau in the late afternoon, to do some preliminary scouting for Ground Parrots and Emu Wrens.

We found neither, but on the way back the afternoon suddenly got adrenalin charged.

Firstly these magnificent Christmas Bells (Blandfordia nobilis) lined the road. I am hoping that Mick might show me some matching images from the Wallum heathlands near her place.
Next, I spotted a magnificent Black Snake just about 10 feet from the car, near a small pond, where I had let Lena out for a brief drink. I grabbed Lena and put her back in the car (she was somewhat puzzled, but I wasn't accepting any argument from her).

This is why!
I used the 300mm lens, through the window of the car, firstly, to just try to get some record of the event - before the Snake disappeared. I was on the far side of the car, and it seems the Snake was still in hunting mode - head up scanning the area for potential prey. It was not looking in my direction at all - as there was a car between it and me. It was probably still checking for frogs.

I switched lenses and tried for a closer shot. At any moment, a snake might decide to depart, and then the photo shoot is over - no questions asked.

A word of advice: Never stand between a snake and where it is likely to want to go - in this case the pool of water.

I walked closer to the creature, and it turned around and started to head towards the pond. Suddenly it stopped - trying to hide in the short grass.

Find the "Snake in the Grass"
Click to read the notes
I and my companion, Larry, moved in for some closer shots. It was amazing how well the snake was hidden in just about 3 inches of grass. That's Larry's shadow on the right (it was late afternoon).

But I could see the Snake's head, and it was studying me - with its beady eye, and its rapidly flicking tongue. I hope it appreciated the scent of my deodorant, and the dog odours which surround my clothes.

Click to enlarge, to see the snake's tongue.
Snakes are amazing creatures. It was frozen there, as was I. Neither of us wanted to move. I did not wish to try to go any closer - that would have been foolish. One cannot help admire the perfection of these animals.

Eventually, I simply stood up and said "Begone, Snake!" and pointed to the pond.

A very Old Testament moment!

Obediently it disappeared in a flash of shiny scales - covering the distance of 5 metres (in a matter of seconds - too fast for me to react) to a large clump of Sword Grass beside the pool. It always amazes me how fast Snakes can cover open ground, when they decide to move.

Its choice of the Sword Grass clump was perfect cover. Nobody or no creature would follow a snake into a large clump of Sword Grass. A minor encounter with just a single leaf of Sword Grass last week gave me a very sharp cut on my finger, which has only just healed.

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