Bird Watcher?

As spring bird migration swings through Texas, I’ve spent a fair few evenings on my back patio, with cell phone, binoculars, and camera all at the ready.  The cell phone is my link to Merlin, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s bird identification app for phones; the binoculars help me with those close-up views of tiny, flighty birds;  the camera is handy, utilized in the hope of a decent photo of something, preferably a something with feathers.

I was about to wrap the watching up one evening, not too long before sundown and after an evening’s birding bust, when this fella slinked out from the limestone rocks which are dry-stacked around the waterfall of my pond.  

This slivery thing is the neighborhood’s resident Texas Rat snake, Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri.  Yes, it’s still around and for this particular appearance, didn’t annoy the Blue Jays, as it did when I last saw it, which you can read about here

I was quite shocked at the snake’s arrival and bumbled as I grabbed my camera; I managed only one decent shot of this lovely creature.  After a sip near the waterfall, and a languid look-see, it lifted its head and with the rest of its long body following, gracefully moved up and over and into the cavern that the piled rocks have created.

Named after one of its prey, Rat snakes also eat bird eggs and birds, especially chicks still in their nests.  I imagine Rat snakes will eat anything smaller than themselves.  I haven’t seen the snake since, nor have I removed the rocks to check if he/she is curled up, hidden from others’ eyes. I doubt the snake is there, as I’m pretty sure it was just a stop-over resting spot, supplying water and maybe, a meal.  Also, if the snake was still there, the Blue Jays would have, by now and vociferously, announced its presence.  There are toads in and around the pond, so rather than snagging a warbler for a meal, I’ll bet it was hunting toad.  Funnily enough, I’ve always fretted, just a little, about a mouse or rat setting up housekeeping under those rocks.  I guess I can now scratch that concern off my list. 

As to warbler watching, that evening hobby has ended: the warblers are apparently winging through Texas on a different path, or set of paths, and avoiding my garden.  It’s been well over a week since my last warbler sighting.  I know migratory birds are still observed in Texas, evidenced by birders posting on Facebook’s Birds of Texas group, chronicling the birds’ northward travels to find their mates and create their families.  

Darn.  Oh well, I’ll always have the snake.

I’m joining in today with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.  Sometimes the vignettes are about gardening, sometimes not, but they’re always fun.


19 thoughts on “Bird Watcher?

  1. Timing IS everything. Similarly, gazing out my window at the fountain two weeks ago, I catch a brief visit by my favorite bird: Cedar Wax wings. Considered myself very lucky!


    • Yeah, it really is. I’ve become adept at noticing unusual movements at or around my pond, as I’m in my house, passing by the back windows. Most of my bird watching comes from that. The biggest issues is keeping the windows clean…:)

      I saw few Cedar Waxwings this year, but loads of them last year. I love those birds, they’re so fun to watch.


  2. The snake would have startled me too! They are beautiful creatures, but I’m still battling a lifelong and totally irrational snake phobia. Getting better, though – working at a nursery has helped a lot. Intellectually, I’ve always known their presence is far preferable to that of rats and mice, but even that doesn’t keep me from jumping when I see one.


    • I think most people have some level of aversion to snakes, if for no other reason than they don’t really cross our paths all that often. I’ve picked up the little garden snakes that I see occasionally, though I’d never pick up that guy/gal–even if I know it won’t harm me. Just wouldn’t. 🙂


  3. I spotted two snakes this past week. A little rubber boa out under the rocks surrounding the growing pecan tree (it was displeased when I uncovered it to mow the creeping grass.)
    Other was young and almost white/ silver looking, perhaps a baby yellow bellied racer. It had found a smart spot next to the compost pile.
    Even without warblers, the neighborhood ecosystem said hello.


    • Yes, I’m fine with the snake. I think it’s very cool that it’s safe in my garden and the surrounding environment.

      I’ve never seen a yellow bellied racer, or at least, I don’t think I have. Lucky you to see two snakes; they’re so shy.


      • I’m not sure that’s what it was. It was pretty plain and more white/silver looking than I’m used to from the usual suspects.

        They don’t venture out to see me, I tend to disturb their hiding places to see them 😉


  4. The combination of a snake and birds in your post reminded me that there’s always a boater or two willing to make another attempt at keeping birds off their vessels by laying a rubber snake on the deck. They’re about as effective as artificial owls, which is to say: not at all. After a few cursory or curious looks, the birds go right on roosting in the rigging, and making a mess down below. An inventor came up with an animatronic owl that turns its head on a regular basis, but even that sign of life doesn’t help. Birds are smart!


    • Oh, that’s really funny. I had no idea that boaters did that! You’re right, though: I see those fake owls all the time, assuming that they’re a waste of money.


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