Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bull Snake in September

 A local business discovered this Bull Snake in their parking lot today and called police, who promptly brought it to Springbrook for us to determine what to do with it. 

Bull Snakes are Minnesota's largest native snake, and used to be common around Springbrook.  Development has made most disappear, but this one was healthy and large at 60 inches long.

 The area where it was found is fully developed and the chances of another encounter with people very high.  The next encounter might not turn out so well for the snake, so I took it to Springbrook's south prairie and released it there.  There are lots of gophers there for it to eat, and other bull snakes.

Bull Snakes are often called Gopher Snakes because of their habit of eating pocket gophers.  Their nose is more pointed than most snakes to help push into gopher mounds and then down into their tunnels.
Bull Snakes are constricters, and find their prey mostly by smell.  Their tongue is forked as this picture shows.  With the tougue shaped like this, the snake can determine which direction, right or left, smells best, for safety or food.  The snake is constantly smelling with its tongue to re-evaluate its options and make decisions as it moves through its world.

They are excellant at rodent control, so I hope this one can find a good place to overwinter, and then finds Springbrook to be a good home.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Fall Heavy Frost

 Last Sunday morning was the first heavy fall frost at Springbrook.  The Virginia Creeper leaves in this picture were covered with crystals of ice. 
In the pictures below there is the pale blue Prairie Aster before and immediately after the rising sun touched it.  The second picture is what I call dew-frost.  Not quite totally thawed but no longer all frost either.
The other two pictures are the tiny hairs on a grass seed head with delicate crystals of frost, and last the heavy edge frost crystals on an aspen leaf.  Fall is here!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Otters at Springbrook

 There has been a family of otters at Springbrook for a few weeks.  A mother and two nearly grown young.  I was able to take these pictures at sunrise with the sun right behind them, so the lighting is bad.  This is the only time I have seen them close, and they disappeared right after I took these pictures.

Several visitors have seen them playing and catching fish close to the boardwalks.  You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

The two young ones are in front here with the larger mother behind.