Monday, June 6, 2011

What Luck

I stopped to photograph wild lupines along a road in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area near Grantsburg Wisconsin. I wasn't having much luck with the flowers but noticed that a lot of dragonflies were landing nearby. So I changed lenses and decided to try and photograph the dragonflies instead.

The good news is that I did better with the dragonflies than I had with the flowers. The photo above is of a four-spot skimmer on a lupine flower. 

Later in the afternoon shadows fell across the flowers near me and the dragonflies moved about 30 yards away to be in the sun. So I picked up my camera and tripod and walked towards the dragonflies. Just as I got there I heard something moving in the grass and leaf litter. I realized it was a snake and tried to catch it.

The snake looked similar to a garter snake but was much faster than any garter snake I had ever caught. It took some quick action on my part, but I did catch the snake.

I was thrilled when I realized just what I was holding in my hands. I had just caught a ribbon snake, and it was only the second one I had ever seen or caught in Wisconsin. The photo at the top of the page and this one are both of that snake reflected in water.

 Ribbon snakes are very cool and very different than the garter snakes they resemble. The first noticeable difference is their speed, they are really fast. They also have a more slender body and a much longer tail. I could see a place about 6 inches from the tip of its tail where the tail could detach if a predator grabbed it. The snake I found had one injured eye (not shown in the photos), but still had all of its tail.

It took some real creativity for me to make any successful photos of this snake and I am really happy with the images I created of this not often seen Wisconsin critter.

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