Call of Survival

Walking along the path I heard a croaking sound, a frog… I looked for at least 5 minutes going up and down the path trying to find where this frog was.

Looking more and more, focusing on the croaking sound, I noticed glistening within the grasses.

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Southern Leopard Frog trying to escape from the Peninsula Ribbon Snake

It was a call of survival. The frog had both front arms out for leverage to make it more difficult for the snake from swallowing it, the frog was fighting for its life. The snake was in much need of food to survive through the Florida winter season. It was difficult to watch, but this is nature, this is the survival of the wild, naturally. The fate of the Southern Leopard Frog is unknown.


About the Peninsula Ribbon Snake, a threatened state species

Peninsula Ribbon Snake
Peninsula Ribbon Snake

-Habitat:   Generally near water, including mangroves and spartina (is a perennial deciduous grass which is found in intertidal wetlands, especially estuarine salt marshes )marsh as well as freshwater depressions and ditches.
-Florida Distribution:   The state-protected Lower Keys population is known from No Name, Big Pine, Middle Torch, Cudjoe, and Upper Sugarloaf keys.
-Range-wide Distribution:   T. sauritus, the eastern ribbon snake, inhabits non-mountainous areas throughout the eastern U.S.  The peninsula ribbon snake, T. s. sackenii, ranges from southeastern South Carolina through Georgia and the Florida peninsula to the Keys.
-Conservation Status:   Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge protects some habitat, but much habitat is threatened by development and drainage.
-Protection and Management:   Protect all Lower Keys wetland habitats, from drainage, pollution, and disturbance by surrounding them with broad, terrestrial buffers.  Protect underground freshwater lens from overconsumption, which would lead to saltwater intrusion.

Links:

-https://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Thamnophis_sauritus_sackenii_-_lower_Keys_population.PDF

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/list/thamnophis-sauritus-sackenii/

Southern Leopard Frog

I am used to seeing Bullfrogs, and tree frogs, so this is the first Southern Leopard Frog I was able to photograph.

Links:

http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/frogs/southernleopardfrog.shtml

http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/wildlife_info/frogstoads/image_index.php

Banded Water Snake

While at Chinsegut WEA with a friend… we ventured out to take some photos of some bullfrogs and came across this Florida Banded Water Snake.

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Florida Banded Water Snake | Photo by Alice Mary Herden | October 14

The Florida Banded Water Snake is a non-venomous snake and solely relies on freshwater habitats and with all the rain last month this snake has a plentiful food source of bullfrogs.

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Bullfrog | Photo by Alice Mary Herden | October 14

Just because this snake is harmless, it still can bite…. so snap your photos from a distance and let it be.


Links:

http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/water_moccasin_watersnake_comparison.shtml

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/identification/snake-id-q27-southern-water/

Black Racer…Good to have around.

Black Racer…. very, very good to have around your yard. Why? Well, they eat other snakes, mice and rats!

Black Racer
Juvenile Black Racer | September 11

Juveniles are often mistaken as Pygmy Rattlesnakes.

Breeding: March thru June | Eggs 6-20: May thru August

Like the baby alligators, snakes also have a egg tooth that helps them rip open the egg and falls off within a couple of days.  Neonates or hatchlings are on their own once they emerge from the egg, feeding on insects and other small amphibians.

Southern Black Racer
Southern Black Racer | August 21

 


Links:

http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/snakes/blackracer.shtml

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/list/coluber-constrictor-priapus/

http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/snakes/florida.shtml

http://www.pbase.com/dydmd/non_venomous_snakes_of_florida&page=all

 

Baby Gators… Survival vs Nature

Breeding season ended in May/June, nesting was in July/August and with the incubation period that lasted up to 68 days, hatchlings are breaking out of their shells to make their way into the world while being supervised and guarded by their mother who is close by.

The mother can produce an average of 30-40 eggs… however a good percentage of them may be crushed by their mother or taken by raccoons.

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American Alligator Hatchling | September 4 2018 | Canon 7D Mark II | Canon 400mm | Canon 2x extender

Mother gators are very protective of their young, so keep your distance around any water areas like ponds and lakes and having a good telephoto lens is a good idea.

Raccoons, otters and even birds are main predators for these little ones.  It is sad to think that these little hatchlings, as cute as they are, most will not survive to reach a year old.

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Possible Gator Nest | September 2018

The nests looks like a mound of grass and other vegetation and usually close to water. The mother gator will continue to use the nest to protect her young from the cold winter months as well as from predators.


Links:

http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/alligator/facts/
https://www.clearlanding.com/alligator-reproduction-and-nesting-facts/

Florida Water Moccasin

Okay.. I am not a big fan of snakes partly due to an experience I had a couple of months ago, however, I do know the importance of these Florida native species and to the ecosystem.

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Water Moccasin | Linda Pederson Park | September 1

I have photographed three of these snakes within the last six months and with all this rain we are having I am sure there will be more sightings.

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Water Moccasin | Bayou Drive | February 26

IF YOU SEE ONE>> JUST LEAVE IT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Water Moccasin | Paynes Prairie | June 27

If you are out photographing, and you come across a snake.. take your pics at a VERY SAFE DISTANCE and go on your way. FYI: Striking ranges for snakes vary from species to species and can be up to 15ft.

KNOW YOUR SNAKES

I have gotten in the habit of not walking along the edge of trails, I stay in the middle, but if you are going to the edge, LOOK ALL AROUND before you take a step and snap that photo! It’s a good idea to have a walking stick too!

Give enough space to walk around the snake.. don’t harass it, let it be!

I highly suggest investing in some good boots… I often wear mid calf rain, mud boots when we hike. These are great if you are going on a short 1 or 2 mile hike.

These are beautiful creatures and need their space.


Links

http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/water_moccasin_watersnake_comparison.shtml

http://www.wildflorida.com/articles/Banded_Water_Snake_or_Cottonmouth.php

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/compare1

https://www.snaketype.com/water-moccasin-snake/

http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/agkpis.htm

http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/reptiles-and-amphibians/reptiles/snakes/cottonmouth/

Click to access Guide_to_venomous_snakes_in_FL.pdf

Click to access Guide_to_nonveneomous_snakes.pdf

 


Camera & Lens:
Canon 7D Mark II 70-200mm (with a 2x extender)

Six-lined Racerunner

These colorful lizards are fast and furious!

Males have the beautiful blue underbelly and throat, while the females underbelly are normally white.

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Six-lined Racerunner | August 21

They are not easy to photograph, I was lucky enough that this guy let me get some shots of him before he zipped away.

They love the heat and not too keen of the cold, so they will hide during the cool nights.


Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-lined_racerunner