I like them snakes

I live in Australia and the core fears that are handed down from generation to generation is a fear of snakes and sharks. And my forbears were farmers! It's part of the antipodean psyche. I fortunately have transcended the snake thing and am always mesmerized by the sheer beauty of each encounter I have had with the species. Seeing a snake move -- I don't like the term "slither" -- in their own environment is one of the best wildlife experience I can imagine.

This evening in my afternoon constitutional I was walking along the creek and there was a ruckus at the base of large Malaleuca coming from two PeeWees and a Willy Wag Tail. Since the birds were so raucous it was soon evident that their problem was a Red Bellied Black Snake [Habitat range indicated in red on the map] who I guess had been after their eggs or offspring.

I straight away put a lead on my dog but I had enough time to watch this beautiful creature muscle its way down the embankment and into the water. [It is "muscle" -- "slither" is all wrong and suggests deviancy.]

The snake's presence indicates the sort of birdlife that has settled in this area in what seems to be great numbers. We have to do an inventory on that , I guess. But you cannot have birds and bird's eggs without snakes. (Just as you cannot have Kookaburras --and we've got those -- without snakes and lizards for them to eat.)

Thirty five years ago I was on Phillip Island in Victoria when I decided to visit Cape Woollamai (see map). The long ocean beach gave way to tussock grasses which shielded Mutton Bird (pictured left) burrows.

No sooner had I entered this area when I realised all of it was alive with snakes so that each path that criss crossed the Cape was a transit lane for snakes -- Tiger Snakes I guess as Tigers and mutton birds go together like ham and eggs. We came upon 11 snakes in a space of 15 minutes. Since dusk was approaching we carefully trod out of there...and with our eyes to the ground.

But after you survive Cape Woollamai or Lake Tali Karng --where you have to swim with Black snakes -- a peckered Red Bellied Black on a Tuesday afternoon doesn't seem so fearsome at all.

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