Photo hikes in nature can present one with surprises. We visited the Lorain County MetroParks’ Sandy Ridge Reservation hoping and expecting to see an assortment of birds native to that wetland. What we did not expect to see along the way is, well, what you see here: a couple of small snakes literally hanging from and on trees! The first was a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) stretched out along the skimpy branch of a tree along the trail. When we first saw the dark-colored reptile, a spot of sun was shining on it from between the trees; perhaps it was catching some rays to warm its cold blood. The snake allowed fairly close approach and did not move at all during the “photo session.” On the way back from enjoying the birds — there’s a long hike through a heavily-wooded area between parking lot and wetland — we spied another little snake. Snake number two had hung itself vertically on the trunk of a tree, head curved out parallel to the ground. The tree-hanging Butler’s Garter Snake (Thamnophis butleri), like the water snake, held perfectly still during our entire time watching and photographing it. Snakes alive, what a surprise!
At Lorain County MetroParks’ Schoepfle Garden last Sunday, I spied two snakes sunning themselves on the bank of a pond. The snakes became aware of me but unpanicked, moved into the water and away at a leisurely pace. As they submerged and wriggle-swam, the pair changed from dark and dusty — nearly black — to their true shades of brown, revealing beautifully-patterned skins. As the larger of the two reptiles turned to meet its (apparent) mate which had gone in the opposite direction, it passed by a large bullfrog. Wary of the possible danger the frog, though too large to be swallowed, held perfectly still as the water snake passed.
We paid a mid-winter visit to Lorain Metro Parks’ wonderful Sandy Ridge Reservation on Saturday, February 6. Usually, when we visit the wetland area, we are treated to an abundance of waterfowl and other birds. Indeed, we saw plenty of Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, and even a rather clumsy Red Tail Hawk (more on this one soon).
The only resident mammals we generally see at Sandy Ridge are Gray Squirrels and assorted Chipmunks, though we certainly have seen some signs of Beaver activity! This day was different. We stopped on the path out of courtesy to a fellow photographer who was staring at the grass at the edge of the path. We watched to see what he was looking for and suddenly there was a stirring in the brush.
Out popped a long, dark brown, very wet critter who quickly loped on to and across the sandy path, then into the grass on the opposite side! It was carrying something … a fish! And that was it. Gathering some groceries was a Mink, I think!
It’s nesting time and the Red-winged Blackbirds raucously declare the boundaries of their territories! Whether perched upon a tree, a reed, or chasing trespassers, red-wings are an aggressive and busy lot. This one was spotted at the Sandy Ridge Reservation of Lorain Metroparks, North Ridgeville, Ohio.
I spotted this beauty on a visit to Schoepfle Garden in beautiful downtown Birmingham, Ohio, last weekend. Schoepfle is a property of the Lorain County Metropolitan Park District. I had attached my 50mm macro lens to my camera and was exploring the plant world at a different scale from what I was used to. The intense color of the lily flower attracted me as it might an insect. I pushed in close to try and fill the frame with the petals and focus on the center of the flower. This was a handheld shot and I had to steady the flower against a light breeze by grasping one of its petals between fingers as I composed my picture and checked focus.