Sunday, November 1, 2009

What Fare for a Fair Day!

You could not insist on a day fairer than this...not without a guilt of greed anyway. I'd call it Indian Summer worth repetition many times over!

First thing this morning after breakfast, Georgie and I watched a nice looking 10 point buck following a couple does around the pasture across from us. We've been getting more activity than we like in the yard here (the bucks in rut really rake up the shrubs and small trees).

Later Georgie and I did some walking through the north pasture prairie remnant and picked seed. Things have dried out fairly well and we're trying to get enough prairie grasses and forb seed collected to heal the ditch over next year. The air was so pleasant and the sun warm, with a slight cool breeze out of the south west.  

Sandhill Crane in Center Lake Wetlands Complex, Dickinson County, IA

We were admiring the clouds and the cerulean sky when we caught a hint of sound to the northwest. I mentioned that it sounded a lot like Sandhill Cranes...we kept hearing it for a minute or so and then saw them - a small flock of 7 Sandhill Cranes flying past Prairie Hill farm! They flew south west but circled back a couple times as if trying to make up their minds as where they should go. That's a first for us "here" but we have photographed the cranes along the Platte in Nebraska and even on nearby wetlands in Dickinson County (but they're rare visitors there).

We came over to the deck on the front of the studio and admired the skies, watching the clouds passing over...took a break for a bit and just talked and watched. The White Ash in the backyard still holds it's seed bounty from last summer, it's now turned a deep amber and the contrast against the blue sky is quite leaves but the seed filled branches are heavily covered and they make a wonderful surrogate.

Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculat)

We decided to take a walk down the road to stretch the legs and take in some more of the view. After flushing a few pheasants I spotted the tiniest little sprig of brown laying still at my feet. I stopped to look closer and here was a tiny Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculat)! I've seen them before here at the acreage and south into Waterman Prairie, but they're so small and secretive that you rarely get to see or hold one. They're one snake that doesn't even attempt to bite or fight when handled.

This is one teenie reptile! Awww, ain't it cute!!!
This is one teenie reptile! I doubted the one I held was longer than 5 inches long stretched out. That probably meant it was born this year because adults are 3-4 inches longer; they're born live in small broods of 7 or 8 in late August or early September. Georgie doesn't care for snakes and didn't much appreciate me walking along side her with one so we headed back to the I got my camera out and went back out to the prairie remnant pasture and attempted some one handed shots of it in my left hand before releasing it.

This last shot of it gives a good idea how it got it's name! See how big it is compared to my ring! These little snakes are protected in Iowa and illegal to keep or kill so I had to release it, as tempting as it was to keep and try and photograph some more. I got one or two shots of it as it gained it's freedom but these little things move!!! Imagine something the diameter of a que tip post, about 5 inches long, brown on top, and moving real fast through the underbrush! Took less than 5 seconds to completely lose track of it!

Right now as I'm writing, Georgie's out on the studio deck reading and a late Halloween "guest" is flying around in the warm sunlight catching a bonus crop of flying bugs (mostly Asian Lady Bird Beetles) - it's a Bat! Now that's one for our books! Never seen a Bat flying around feeding in broad daylight/mid afternoon in November!!! I'm guessing that the weather's been so cool and wet lately, that the poor little guy hasn't been eating! Guess now he's making up for lost time...well I'm rooting for him! Get those dang bugs!

What fare for a fair day!


Mary Klein said...

Fantastic photographs, Bruce.

My favorite is the redbelly snake - those images are absolutely precious!

Prairie Painter said...

Thank you Mary, I really think those little creatures are cool!

Autumn said...

Hi, I just found your blog and LOVE the photos of that snake. I never knew one could be so small!

Prairie Painter said...

Thank you Autumn, they are amazing little creatures!