Back In The Cypress Swamp
After a week leading tours in the Salt Marsh, it was great being back in the Cypress Swamp again today. I had a group of nine people, including two young kids, one of whom was NOT happy about going in the swamp. Things started out pretty normally, with lizards and frogs hanging out in the trees. The first few snakes were awake, and not interested in being picked up. After two failed attempts to catch snakes, all I had to show was a very wet kayak guide. I watched a beautiful Banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata) slip into the water before I even got close. We had a closeup view of a 4-foot alligator that never even went under water, and a great look at the female Osprey on her nest.
Finally, I was able to catch a nice Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota). After a very calm catch, this snake didn’t even musk me, and made no attempt to bite me. It took a couple minutes to stop slowly crawling through my hands and settle down. Only one guest was ready to hold the snake. I am always impressed when a mom holds a snake just to set a good example for the kids.
I also caught a Banded Watersnake that was getting ready to shed. Since it had impaired vision due to cloudy eyes from the shed, nobody got to hold this one.
There were Green Tree Frogs everywhere, lots of Green Anoles and a couple Broad-headed Skinks, as well as Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and a juvenile Little Blue Heron. The Little Blue Heron is interesting, because they are solid white for the first year, making them easy to confuse with Snowy Egrets.
By the end of the 2-Hour tour, the kid who was originally afraid was laughing and smiling, and having a great time.