Monday, March 23, 2009

The Rattlesnake Dance

Saturday morning my computer decided that it did not want to work. The earliest we could schedule a Genius Bar appointment was on Sunday afternoon. I was pretty bummed, because I have a major project due at the end of the week. To be honest, my computer IS my brain in so many ways, it was daunting to think I would probably not get it back until Wednesday or Thursday, making that entry to the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year difficult to say the least.

So . . . Henry got me out of the house and we headed for the Hill Country to check out the early season wildflowers. One one stretch of dirt road in between Llano, Johnson City, and Fredericksburg, he stopped and backed up. I knew he'd seen something I had not so I said, "What did you see?" His answer: "Mating rattlesnakes!"

Being bummed when we left, I did NOT bring my camera gear - BIG MISTAKE! This would have been a sequence of photos worthy for any wildlife photgraphy competition - good lighting, intriguing interaction . . . close enough that I think the 100-400 would have gotten great shots from the safety of the car.

The snakes were on Henry's side, so he pulled out his Iphone. I have used Genuine Fractals to blow them up a little at least to be able to share them on my blog.

In all the years of driving the backroads, every now and then you see a natural wonder that you know you're unlikely to see again. One year it was a very new fawn . . . this year these rattlesnakes . . .

I came home to the web to read more about rattlesnake behavior after watching this amazing courtship. Apparently in the spring as they are coming out from their winter slumbers, rattlesnakes spend hours twisting, curling, intertwining. Later the female gives birth to live babies which are then left to fend for themselves.

Part of the viper family, they are extremely poisonous, but they have their place in the natural world. These were far from human habitation, so they are not a threat to anyone but the small mice and rodents and bird's nests.

I'm glad we got to watch their courtship . . . and, yes, I'm glad we were in our car rather than out walking.

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