Monday, July 27, 2009

Big name for a small snake

At Oyster Bay, just south of Campbell River, we found a small rest area/nature park, with a variety of habitats to explore. Once a log booming area, it is now protected habitat for birds and rare native dune and marsh plants. A couple of locals we met on a trail told us that the small bay is crowded with thousands of shore birds in winter; now, on a hot summer's evening, we saw only the purple martins nesting on poles, an eagle, a flock of lbbs, and a lone Least sandpiper (photos later).

On the shore, we met this tiny snake:

I had never seen one of these before, only the larger Common garter snake. This one was barely a foot long, and very slender. We saw it first, weaving its way along the old seaweeds at the high tide line; when it noticed us, it headed up the beach, going fast. We followed, and after a bit, it stopped running, coiled up, and threatened us. Not much of a threat, considering that it would fit in one of my hands.

However, these garter snakes do strike and have been known to bite. I'm glad I didn't try to pick it up.

Look at that red tongue!

The snake is named "terrestial", but is mainly aquatic, rarely found far from water, salt or fresh. And "Wandering" refers to its wide range; most of the western North American continent, sea level to high in the mountains.


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