Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What's a Birthday Party Without a Snake Hunt?

Clark's Creek covering FM444 which runs from Hope to Ezzell.

Zoom-in of torrent going over the bridge.

Ferns were abundant due to almost continuous rain in July. I took this macro shot to show the leaf texture.

The old Ezzell Store at the corner of FM531 and Lavaca County Road One.

An older building next to the store has succumbed to nature.

An abandoned shed and barn on County Road One.

The first snake seen was the elusive Canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus atricaudatus), sadly DOR (dead on road). Canebrake's are listed as a "Threatened Species" in Texas.

A doe grazes near the road, unfazed by our presence.

Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) gather to roost at dusk.

Later that evening, the night was alive with frog calls. I was able to track this squirrel tree frog (Hyla squirella) as he called for a mate.

Early Saturday morning. At first look, you'd think it was foggy. My lens actually fogged up from being in an air conditioned house all night.

The same fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) shot through a clean lens.

Brandon and I drove to Halletsville to buy BBQ for Nina's party. This old meter cover was in the sidewalk on the town square. Please do not molest the gas meter!

A shot of the historic Lavaca County Courthouse in downtown Halletsville. Notice the storm clouds in the northwestern sky.

Back in Hope, a Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) came out to bask in the brief minutes of sunshine.

Indian Paint Brushes dotted the side of FM444.

Calla lilies in Nina's backyard.

Parasitic fern grows on the bark of nearly all the live oak trees.

Macro shot of an unusually colored mushroom.

Wild "mustang" grapes were abundant along the fence rows. Darlene's aunts and uncles regularly make jam and grape juice.

After the sun came out, we went to the old Lampley house off Highway 77 to hunt copperheads. This is the abandoned shed and store room. Although perfect habitat for both copperheads and Texas rat snakes, none were found probably due to the saturated ground.

Golden garden spiders (Argiope aurantiae) were everywhere!

Record rainfall created perfect habitat for damselflies and dragonflies in "water holes" along the ditches. This Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) staked his territory to this stick over the water and, while I watched, fought off numerous attempts by smaller damselflies to invade his territory.

As I watched the chaos over the water hole, I witnessed this Bold Jumping Spider
(Phidippus audax) ambush a yellowjacket that flew in for a drink.

Another shot of the same Roseate Skimmer.

Can you see the tiny American toad (Bufo americanus)?

This young female Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) was caught in a "Havahart" trap, trying to invade Darlene's uncle's chicken house. I was able to save her from a sure bullet in the head and took a few photos before releasing her down at the creek.

You'd think she would show a little gratitude!

Saturday evening, Brandon and I struck out again for a little road cruising. Frogs and toads were abundant. This large female American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) seemed to own the road when we came up on her.

Garden orb-web spiders (Eriophora transmarina) descend from the live oaks at dusk to build BIG webs. At night, they wait in ambush.

The same web, covered in dew, early Sunday morning.

The same female bullfrog the next morning. I don't think she liked spending the night in a snake bag. Notice how puffed up she is.

Another shot as she hopped away (with attitude!).

The last catch Saturday night. A vividly colored broad-banded copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus) that was non-chalantly crawling down the side walk when Brandon and I got in from roading. I waited until Sunday morning to take this shot. Very seldom do we visit Hope and I not find a copperhead. They are easily the most abundant snake per square mile in Lavaca County!

Oh yea, we spent the weekend in Hope to celebrate Darlene's mom's 70th birthday. Photos from the family gathering on Saturday can be seen on Darlene's Blog at: mssnakeman.blogspot.com


darlene said...

Well, Baby!
This is a very impressive blog with very impressive photos! They all are great. The courthouse is one of my favorites. I still remember how it smells, as silly as that sounds.

I will be looking forward to the next set of photos and narative.

All my love,

darlene said...

Oh.. I forgot to add one thing. I think that the opossum looks a lot like the elusive Lavaca Co. Chupacabra. ;-)


Brenda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
XXXX said...

I sort of feel like that opossum in the 2nd picture. You'd think someone was pulling its tail or something.