Life List – Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
I visited my sister and her husband in Miami this weekend and together we headed out into the wilds of South Florida. I had hoped to find my first invasive Florida python (my sister is a park ranger and permitted to collect them), but this goal would go unfulfilled. We visited Everglades National Park and areas outside its borders. Despite the lack of luck with pythons, we had terrific success with other species. One notable encounter was the rattlesnake above, a long overdue first for me.
Hurricane Irma’s recent visit was still apparent near Flamingo.
Inside the park there was apparent damage from hurricane Irma. Far south, significant amounts of foliage are missing and sea-grass still litters the marina parking lot. Mosquitos descended on us as night fell and other nocturnal species emerged. We saw many nighthawks, including the specimen below.
Our best success, though, was with snakes. We encountered 13 species total, if a dead corn snake is included. Kevin was top spotter this evening. At one point he picked out the racer below as it climbed a roadside tree. It settled in for the night in this position.
I photographed all the snakes I could, in situ, on the road using a flashlight for lighting. Many reptile enthusiasts capture and pose snakes. This technique allows for incredible images of subject and environment to be made. If handled properly snakes will not be harmed in this manner, but I prefer to keep contact to a minimum. On the road, a fast lens and bright light can create a studio-like quality in photos that isolates the subject. I find this quality sufficiently pleasing and believe less contact is best for the welfare of the organisms involved. Minimal coaxing after the fact gets wildlife off the road and out of harms way.
Juvenile Yellow Rat Snake
Green Water Snake
Salt Marsh Snake (specimen 1)
Salt Marsh Snake (specimen 2)
Species List: Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Corn Snake, Scarlet Snake, Banded Water Snake, Green Water Snake, Salt Marsh Snake, Florida Brown Snake, Ribbon Snake, Ring Neck Snake, Eastern Garter Snake, Cottonmouth, Yellow Rat Snake, Everglades Racer
Corn Snake Roadkill
Though road cruising is often the most productive way to find snakes, it is also a constant reminder of the danger that humans poses to wildlife. This was one of at least five dead snakes we encountered.
Lightning and Miami’s Aura over a flooded prairie.
Mid evening, we found a nice stretch of road exposed to the wind, which kept the mosquitoes at bay. I set up for a few quick landscapes. A lightning storm over Miami added a nice element to the photos. The stars and the milky way were also out in force. Clear winter skies are on their way!
The Milky Way over South Florida.