Snakes and Snakebirds
Life at Butte La Rose goes on, always interesting, always changing, always ready to teach something. A couple days ago I was processing some reclaimed cypress lumber in the yard. I pull the nails out of it, brush the dirt off if necessary, and trim the ends so that the wood will be ready to use when the time comes to give it life again. I walked around a small area that day for several hours, back and forth, back and forth. At some point I noticed something in the leaf litter and looked harder at it. Yep, it was a snake, coiled up near a log and resting comfortably (it seemed) very near my foot. It was a small copperhead, venomous, but not dangerously so. It had been there for some time, judging by its position and demeanor. It’s not obvious down there where I first saw it, but look for something circular – not many things are circular, like the coils of a snake, in nature. The close-up of the pattern of the colors is striking, I think, when not blended with leaf litter and forest debris. A larger copperhead, about two feet long, had Carolyn treed in her car in the garage last week but I rescued her like the knight in shining armor that I am.
Anhingas are called snakebirds sometimes. They have those long necks and slender heads and beaks and often that is all you see when they swim on the surface. Of all the water birds around here, they are among the most adept at getting food from an aquatic environment. They swim and take fish on the fishe's turf and make a living at it. Then they hop up on a branch near the water and spread their wings to dry them, a thing seen often by people who watch the water. But they aren’t limited to that. It can come as a surprise to see anhingas soaring high, very high, in the warm currents of updrafts. This picture is of four of them doing that last week. So, from down in the dim depths of the river in the morning, to cruising at two thousand feet in the afternoon - the master of both elements. Something to admire, being able to fish and soar on the same day.
The river is at 11.3 feet at the Butte La Rose gauge, falling slowly for the next few days to about 10.6 feet by Friday. The Ohio and Mississippi are both rising above Memphis, with the Ohio kicking in with strong to moderate rises up into its watershed. More water will come to keep the river up.
Rise and Shine, Jim