Sunday, January 3, 2010

My favorite bird was a snake

Besides counting CBC birds on the 31st, we also encountered two brocket deer (Mazama americana) and a gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). As always, we enjoyed all the birds we counted, the residents and North American migrants alike.

But my "favorite bird of the day" was actually a snake! We were standing there in the road, binoculars in hand, happened to look down and there it was: a pink snake about 12" long. I've always liked snakes and other "herps." So I have devoted a good amount of time over the years photographing them with some of the photos ending up in various regional field guides.

As I stooped to examine this pretty snake, it was immediately evident it was something I'd never seen before. Luckily it was docile enough to permit 10 photographs before slipping into the grass. Later, at home with Jonathan Campbell's "Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Guatemala, the Yucatan and Belize" in hand, Figure 116 and accompanying text led to a identification of the Four-lined Middle American Earth Snake, Adelphicos quadrivigatus. What clinched it was Campbell's comments that he'd most frequently seen them after a hard rain had flooded them out of their abode. Exactly the conditions we'd so recently been "enjoying!"