Snake day at Windy Hill

by

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Today was for hiking all the trails at Windy Hill, a bit more than 18 miles, a bit less than 4000 feet of vertical gain. Nice to get out and get a little exercise.

I haven’t seen very many snakes this year, nor for the past few years. I think the drought has reduced the amount of vegetation available for the little field mice and voles that form the snakes’ diet, and the snake population has declined accordingly.

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So I was delighted to find a rattlesnake today.

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It was quiet and relaxed. I was quiet and relaxed. Two or three minutes, during which I fired off a number of photos, and then it oozed off the trail into the bush.

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I mentioned having seen a rattlesnake to several dog walkers I met afterward. Some of them tightened up their leashes. It’s good if no one gets hurt, including the snake.

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Not much further along, another snake, this one a gopher snake. My cup runneth over!

And just to gild the lily, I came upon two hikers a few minutes later, still looking off the trail into the weeds, where they told me a ringneck snake had just disappeared.

Great day, great place!

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4 Responses to “Snake day at Windy Hill”

  1. dipperanch Says:

    Yay, I like it when people share photos and fun stories about snakes in our local wild lands. Hopefully it balances out the fear and vengeance that gets heaped upon these amazing creatures. I recently did a lunchtime presentation for open space volunteers on common grassland snakes of our local preserves and brought a guest snake to share. It was great to see the disinterest and fear in their eyes quickly turn to amazement. I hope that in your future hikes you get the opportunity to see some of these other common grasslands snakes: http://dipperanch.blogspot.com/2015/06/grassland-snakes-of-santa-cruz-mountains.html

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  2. dipperanch Says:

    Yes, that second snake is a Pacific gopher snake: pointed tail, shiny, smallish head, brown rectangles across top width, cool black racing angles below eyes. The biggest snakes I’ve seen in the Santa Cruz Mountains have been gopher snakes. I describe difference between rattlers and gopher snakes here: http://dipperanch.blogspot.com/2010/04/buzzer-gets-its-color.html . Other possibilities of brown-blotched snakes in Santa Cruz Mountains are nightsnake and juvenile yellow-bellied racers but those don’t get nearly that big. It’s a beauty you saw there.

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  3. greg Says:

    Great photos! What species of rattlesnake is that? Looks much different than the ones we have in Tucson. Nice to see others who let the rattlesnakes be rather than killing them. Thanks for the fun blog post!

    Like

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