Monday, December 28, 2015

Let me tell you 'bout the frog and the snake...

I have lots of stories.  When I show one of my photographs in a classroom, I often have a story that goes along with it.  Unfortunately, many of my best stories don't translate well to the written form.  This is because my storytelling usually has a physical component - I don't just tell a story, I act it out.  So until the day that I become a better writer (not likely to happen), or I start to record videos of my stories (even less likely to happen), many of my stories can only be experienced in person.

There are a few, a very few, of my photographs that can almost tell the story on their own.  One example is this sequence of pictures from 2006.

I remember discovering this Common Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) struggling with a Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) in the woods at Mission Creek Woodland Park.

I have made a habit of discovering interesting things not only by sight, but also by smell and sound.  My attention was drawn to this pair by a horrible grunting squeak that I couldn't replicate if I tried.  It was not a sound that I usually hear in a forest or anywhere else for that matter.  It was so unique that I had to search for the source.  When I first spied the snake and frog in the leaf litter, the snake had a hold of a single hind leg of the frog.  This was enough...

 A garter snakes jaws are lined with many small needle-sharp teeth.  They help the snake get a grip on struggling prey.  By walking its jaws along the frog's body, it was quickly able to position the frog in the preferred head-first swallowing position.  The frog had no real defense for this - it tried to puff up its body to make itself to large to swallow, but the garter snake is an expert on frogs.

I think I will let the snake show you.


Had I discovered this interaction in recent years, I may have attempted to film it with my fancy digital camera, but these photographs were taken back in 2006.  I was still using a film camera at the time.  Not only did I have a limited number of possible images (24 or 36 depending on the type of film I was using and the number already exposed), but I also had to wait to view my images.  The exposed film were rushed off to the photo printer the same day and were back in my hands an hour of so later.  It was all very primitive by today's standards, maybe that is a story I can act out...

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