Rattler on the Road!

There's always birdwatching...

Snake on the road!


Coiled and rattling.

The forecast for our last day in south Texas (2/21/03) was promising - warm and partly cloudy.  A good day to head up to Laguna Atascosa and see the alligator, recently returned from parts unknown after a long dry spell.

After some early morning sun, however, the sky clouded over, and a brisk breeze from the north sprang up.  We decided to go anyway - always plenty of bird-watching to do.  We, being Bill and my oldest daughter, Ember.

Mama Gator wasn't out so we headed down the scenic bayside drive, a long one-way road that hugged the Laguna Madre before looping back inland.  A great place to see large numbers and varieties of birds.

We were just finishing up the loop when we came across a great big beauty of a Western Diamondback, just starting to crawl out into the road.  Screech!  I stopped quickly and got out, fumbling my camera gear out of the pack.  This was my first south Texas rattler, and it was a monster!  It looked like a five footer, with a lot more black and dark brown colors in the pattern than the atrox I'd seen in west Texas or Arizona.

I walked around it, snapping pictures as quickly as I could.  The last foot of the beast was still in the thornscrub, and I felt sure that it would soon pull itself back in.  Sure enough, it began retreating, and I ran out of film.  Fortunately, it coiled up under the thornscrub and began rattling.

"Go over and jump up and down and get its attention!" I told Ember.  "I need to change film and I don't want it to crawl away!"  She looked at me like I was nuts, but humored me and did it anyway.  It worked - Ember jumped and waved, the rattler rattled, and I reloaded and strapped on the flash.  I took a few more shots of the beastie and then we let it go on its way.

Back in the car, I noted the temperature - 71F.  Cool, cloudy, wind out of the north, spitting rain - not the most favorable conditions for rattlesnakes, but I wasn't complaining!

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