More pleased than many would be

Trotted over to the neighborhood pond this evening to see if the sunset would pan out, and keep an eye open for wildlife, especially water snakes because it’s that time of the year. The sunset was total crud, but I was successful with one goal, anyway, finding a pair of northern water snakes (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) right smack in the path ahead of me. The light was fading fast but still sufficient for a couple of brief video clips, so…

Seeing the two of them close together seemed a little suspicious, especially when neither of them reacted to my close presence, though they confirmed their intent quickly, while I remained fixed in place and didn’t even shift my feet once I realized what was going on. The first couple of photos suffered from a shutter speed too slow for any quality, and I didn’t bother firing off the on-camera flash because I didn’t want to disturb them.

Just after these clips, a third water snake slid into the picture and attempted his own coup, finding the position already taken, while the female began slipping just a little further away. Apparently it was clear that the female was in season, and I’m impressed with how easily this was detected by the males. Satisfied that their primary goals had been met, I elected to use the flash for a couple of frames, apparently disturbing nothing.

trio of northern water snakes Nerodia sipedon sipedon immediately after mating
What I find impressive is the color variation, indicating little – most snake species vary in hue more than a little bit among individuals, making identification by color far too tricky to attempt, though pattern is another matter. The female is medium brown in base color, the first (successful) male is quite dark with no brown at all, while the latecomer (ahem) is almost orange in hue – his head lies along the female’s back just at the leftmost curl in this photo, with the other male just below it; the female’s head is at upper center.

Luckily, The Girlfriend did not come along on this outing – she does not like snakes and the size of the female, at least, would not have been met with anything approaching the delight that I had. Worse though, my brother was driving down here for vacation exactly when this was taking place, specifically to see things just like this, but what could I do? At least there’s the video…

And yes, I rejected countless off-color comments and puns both here and in the voiceover. I can display a tiny bit of class, with effort.

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