Tag Archive | snakes

A couple of Okanagan snakes

IMG_1002While Catherine and I were exploring the area around Vaseux Lake, We managed to see a couple of snakes I had not yet encountered in BC.


The first species was the yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), a subspecies of the common racer. Like other racers I have seen, these were super fast snakes!


This was as good as I could manage for an environmental portrait, as the snake could not be convinced to pose.


Large eyes, fast snake!


Like many other Okanagan fauna, the racer is considered vulnerable in BC. Because of rampant development in this area of BC, the status of these beautiful snakes is uncertain.


The second species we found was a beautiful (and BIG) bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer). This awesome constrictor was (long ago) considered a subspecies of the pine snake, and is a species I have always wanted to encounter. We had seen one dead on the road before, so seeing this amazing snake alive was certainly a highlight.


When I pointed out the snake to this guy, he dived right in to catch the snake. I wish I had caught his name, but he was a real Okanagan outdoor lover who had a great fondness for the local herpetofaina. He was also immune to poison ivy, which is why he was able to navigate the ivy filled swamp to fetch the snake.


I managed to get this picture of the snake on a branch, but not much else. This was by far the largest snake of any kind I had ever encountered in Canada. Handling it was not intimidating, although it did musk us a bit. Interestingly, the musk of this snake was not super-offensive like that of a garter snake.


After we let it go, the snake had the last laugh…While the fellow who caught him was immune to poison ivy, I certainly was not, and got a bad case from having handled the ivy oil-laden serpent!


Farewell to March (fly)



Time flies! It seems like March is almost gone, and I have barely been out to enjoy the spring weather! Well, yesterday afternoon, I took advantage of a sunny spell to get out to Uplands park to see what I could see. And here is what I encountered!

Barely missing the cutoff, there were a bunch of March Flies (Bibionidae) out on the vegetation and forming mating swarms above the rocks.

Barely missing the cutoff, there were a bunch of March Flies (Bibionidae) out on the vegetation and forming mating swarms above the rocks.


Not ones to miss out on a spring fling, I interrupted a couple stragglers from a mating ball of garter snakes (leaving the female alone) to snap a few shots. When the snakes are out and hunting for love, you know it is springtime!






I just managed one shot of this bee while it was perched on an Indian Plum leaf.


This syrphid was feeding on Indian Plum as well, although a little slower than the bee.


There were a few spiders out, including this zebra jumper.




Some spring shots from Victoria


It is a popular pastime among us West Coasters to point out our gorgeous spring weather to those of you who are freezing back East. I think that’s just cruel. Nonetheless, I can’t help but notice it is minus three in Toronto, snowing in Alberta and freezing in New Brunswick….Here in Victoria, the snakes are out, the flowers are blooming and we are expecting our first Rufous Hummingbirds any day now!

Here are a few shots from the past couple days in sunny Victoria!


A springtime cove from high above on windy Mt. Douglas.


This plump Gnaphosa didn’t mind the wind in a rocky retreat (thanks to Laura P. and Lynnette Schimming for the ID!)


This elaterid is a bit of a cheat, as I had to flip a stone to find it.


The first snakes are always how I have registered springtime…This one was just neonate sized.


A cormorant fishing in Swan Lake.


A Cooper’s Hawk from yesterday morning.



Red-tailed Hawk about to bug out!