Northern Black Racer Snake (Ophidiophobia Alert!)

A few weeks ago, when the wren house was invaded by rodents, I half-jokingly said to my husband, “What we need is a snake.”

Snake Oct 14

Apparently the yard was listening.

Snake Oct 14

(My first instinct was to label these photos “Eastern Rat Snake.” A few clicks through the Virginia Herpetological Society’s website changed my mind, and their quick response to my e-mail ID request confirmed that our visitor was a Northern Black Racer.)

Snake Oct 14

I gave the snake an hour or so, to recover from the fright of being photographed by a pajama-clad woman carrying a noisy camera, then I measured the fence with a ruler. Each board in the fence is a little over five inches wide…

Snake Oct 14

…and the snake was about seven boards long.

Snake Oct 14

Perhaps that’s big enough to tackle the wren house rats? Because after we took down the wren house, one of the rats moved into a small pile of branches we keep forgetting to haul away. Today, the snake moved into that same pile of branches.

Snake Oct 14

 The last time we had a rat problem, a hawk solved it. I think a snake is an equally elegant solution.

Spring Birds and a Basking Snake (Ophidiophobia Alert!)

Our weather took a definite turn toward spring today. A combination of warmer temperatures and cloudless skies created the perfect conditions for a stroll with friends at First Landing State Park.

Osprey April 7

The osprey have returned to the park in force. They wheel and soar over the marshes and beaches, voicing high-pitched challenges as they claim their summer territories. Their massive nests dominate the scenery, but there are plenty of other birds to see, as well.

Ducks April 7

Ducks April 7

These ducks were not alone in the water, but I spent too long trying to line up the “perfect shot” of a loon, so missed it altogether.

Loon April 7

Further along the trail, we saw a pair of brown-headed nuthatches hopping in and out of a nest cavity. One of them stayed in the nest most of the time we were watching, but the other seemed less convinced.

Nuthatch April 7

Nuthatch April 7

They spent a great deal of time calling back and forth, one in the nest and the other on a nearby branch, almost as if they were discussing their options.

Nuthatch April 7

Nuthatch April 7

Nuthatch April 7

It seemed to me as if the nest was going to win.

Nuthatch April 7

After my friends left the park, I wandered a bit further in search of a woodpecker that I had heard calling in the distance. I never found the woodpecker, but I did find a lovely snake basking in the sun.

Snake April 7

Snake April 7

I wonder if the snake feels like I do tonight, peaceful and content, happy that spring has arrived at last.