Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Living It Up at the Retention Pond

Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), also called Eastern Racer. I've been trying for years to photograph one of these and finally got my chance! This is the first time I've seen one sunning instead of speeding.

I'd been concerned about what Mary and I call our "post office pond," a retention pond a few short blocks from our local post office. It's been dredged and dug and reshaped as part of a still-ongoing construction project. It used to have a frog and toad chorus in the summer, but I haven't heard any amphibian concerts there this year.

Still, recent torrential rains have filled it in, and it remains a hangout for local wildlife... (continued)

Joan Bradshaw writes in "Racing Reptilians," "The black racer is a beneficial snake and helps keep our rodent and insect population down. Part of the racer's success is due to its wide diet and they have been referred to as 'slithering garbage pails.'"

This one was resting on the stump of a tree felled as part of the construction. I had gone there to photograph birds and suddenly came face to face with this beauty. "The eyes, with their rich, chestnut-brown irises, are large in relation to its head, betraying the racer's keen vision," writes Bradshaw.

The construction site currently looks like this. I don't know if the large mound (rock? dirt? both?) will remain as an island, but it's currently making some birds happy. Three species -- a Great Egret (Casmerodius albus, Family Ardeidae), a Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis, also Family Ardeidae), and several juvenile White Ibises (Eudocimus albus, Family Threskiornithidae) have taken up residence.

The large white bird at center is a Great Egret. Its black legs distinguish it from the Great White Heron. The smaller white bird second from left with buff-colored feathers on its crown and back is a female Cattle Egret in breeding coloration. The dark-feathered birds are juvenile White Ibises.

I also spotted a Great Egret farther back in the water.

I realized only after I had downloaded the shots that when I captured this individual on pixel, I also captured a turtle, which can be seen at rear center in the shot below:

The turtle's best viewed large.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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