Saturday, June 22, 2013

You saw WHAT while kayaking?

My lovely marsh, June 20
If you've read my blog for a while, you know that sunny weather means I'll likely be at our Adirondack lakeside 'camp', paddling my kayak to the marsh at the north end of the lake, and that I'll post take lots of marsh photos and post them here instead of art lessons.  So that's what I did on Wednesday in the late afternoon sunshine (I went paddling with my Nikon along for the ride).  Usually, a paddle to the marsh means sightings of turtles, spider webs jeweled with dew, assorted water fowl, and waterlilies.  So when, from a distance, I saw what appeared to be an unusual knotted branch or maybe a vine on a branch on a little bush growing on a mound in the marsh, I had to go closer to see what it was.   And when I got there, here, my friends, is what I saw:
 
I know.. a lot of pics of the same thing...  but really, how could I resist?!  t is either a northern water snake (non-poisonous venom, but it's saliva contains an anticoagulant that makes its bites bleed like crazy; I found this out through research after I returned home) or maybe it is a timber rattlesnake (which, also through after-the-fact research, I discovered does indeed swim).  Egads!  
My hubby thought perhaps someone was playing a prank, winding a toy rattlesnake around a branch to scare someone gullible like me.  I thought he was full of ****, since I almost NEVER see anyone else kayaking way in the deep back end of the marsh, and because all the stumps and rocks and muck and   shallow water in the marsh make it pretty impossible to get close enough to do something like that.  

So I set out to prove him wrong.  If the next day the snake was still there, in the same place, I was a victim of a hoax.  If it was gone, we'd know it was real and alive.  I tried to convince him to hop in his canoe and come with me, but he wanted no part of this excursion.  So midday on a bright Thursday, I paddled my way back to the marsh.  There were dozens of geese.  There were hundreds of dragonflies flitting around everywhere.  Bullfrogs were singing in chorus.  I saw a turtle plop into the water.  I saw fish jumping.  I saw water bugs skating.  I even saw a great blue heron take off and fly over the marsh.  (Simply lovely; amazing.)  It was a glorious beautiful day, and I searched every outcropping, every mound, every stump.  The snake was gone, which of course means it was the real thing.
Geese in the marsh
The snake was way in the back of the area of this photo
Marsh driftwood
On my way out -  toward the mouth of the marsh
I often go into places in the marsh where I cannot be seen, winding my way between the tall grasses.  My cell phone gets no reception in the marsh.  Sometimes I get a little stuck, and get nervous that I won't be able to back myself out, or that my paddle will get stuck in the muck, or that a snapping turtle will jump in my kayak and eat me (I've never actually seen a snapping turtle), or that geese will attack me (truth is, they either honk loudly at me in chorus, or freeze and pretend they are invisible, or quietly swim away while my head is turned), or that a jumping fish will land in my kayak and I'll freak out and flip over with my Nikon still around my neck.  But I never ever thought about snakes in the marsh!

Any snake experts out there that can confirm the type of snake from my photos?  Unfortunately the body was wrapped over the end of the tail, so it's hard to tell if there is a rattle or not... 

Meanwhile, I'm saving money to buy a longer lens for my camera, so I don't have to get so close next time!!

9 comments:

  1. I think it makes more sense that it is the water snake based on how you discovered it. I can't imagine getting so close to any snake by choice, especially since you were alone. Phyl, I call you BRAVE!

    Kim

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    1. Thanks Kim; you call me brave, I call me crazy! Truth is, I'm totally neurotic and brave is the last word anyone would ever use to describe me. I just assumed it was some innocent harmless sense when I spent like 20 minutes circling and photographing it. It simply never occurred to me it could be a rattler until hubby saw my photos! A rattlesnake was his first guess!

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  2. Yuck! I can't stand snakes! I love nature and bugs don't bother me but no snakes please! last night my son says to me look at this picture i took last night of this huge snake on our front walkway... it was a Timber Rattlesnake! we do have them in the woods behind my house and I have seen them on my property( rattle and all) before, though not in a long time and usually during a dry spell when they are moving down to go to the river! Creepy! Now I don't want to go into the shed and clean it out like i wanted too!!! Your other pictures are beautiful! :)

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    1. Thanks, what part of the country are you in? (Curious as to the range of timber rattlesnakes.)

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  3. I'm in Northern New Jersey on the border of Morris and Sussex counties. Where I live is very wooded with a lot of protected land. My property goes up the mountain into the woods for a few acres, then its green Acres protected land, so there is a lot of wildlife! Deer, fox, turkey, coyote, black bears and several different kinds of big, ugly, snakes!

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  4. Love your photo of the marsh driftwood -- spectacular reflection!!

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    1. Thanks so much Christie. The day I saw the snake it was windy, but when I went back the next day, it was calm and there were fabulous reflections everywhere. The big challenge is keeping the kayak still enough to get well-focused photos.

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  5. Phyl, If I ever saw that snake I wouldn't go in the lake all summer!!! One time I was rope swinging and just as I was about to let go I saw a snake wriggle in the water below. I hung on to that rope swing until my hands slipped off. I didn't have enough momentum to get back to the middle of the lake, which meant I was destined to fall in the shallow parts with the rocks! I fell and got a little scraped but it could've been worse. I would've done anything not to jump in and go swimming with a water snake.

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    1. Yeah, I definitely wouldn't want to swim with it either! But I'm pretty sure the snake wouldn't come where I swim - it takes me about 20 minutes to paddle to the marsh, and the snake would be very happy there, with frogs to eat and very little to disturb it. The only marsh animals that leave the marsh are the geese, the ducks, the loons, and an occasional great blue heron.

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