Thursday 16 September 2010

16 September 2010 - Snakes Alive

Came across this little fella [about 35cm long].... it is a young Viperine snake [Couleuvre vipérine or Vipère d'eau] Natrix maura.
Viperine snake [Couleuvre vipérine or Vipère d'eau] Natrix maura
Pauline used Planete Passion to get a fix on his identity.
Planete Passion state that they are very variable ["Its colouring is extremely variable, olive greens, greenish brown, yellowish brown, greys, yellowish orange and reddish browns. On its back are two rows of dark lines, angled backwards, which are often joined together to give a zigzag pattern."]... indeed the illustrations on their site show five different colourways and patterns. They also say "but if threatened it adopts a very similar intimidating pose to a Vipére" and whilst being manouvered for a photograph, it took up a strike pose and then relaxed and slid off in the direction I'd hoped. It moved very fast and in almost all shots is slightly blurred against the background. [I've sharpened them as best I can.]  Visit Planete Passion to get more information and see the other pictures.
This is the first "live" snake we've seen on the property.... the only other observations have been sloughed skins.
Thanks to Susan from Days on the Claise for this link to the reference on Reptiles and Amphibiens de France [it is an English Language site despite the french title]
Viperine snake showing a zig-zag pattern at the right

Viperine snake [head detail - note the round pupil]
Other observations today:

Suddenly the Swallows are gone.... as are the House Martins from town! Summer is finished!

A male Sparrow Hawk [Epevier d'Europe] took a small bird [probably young Goldfinch] in the Sunflowers next to the house. It came from the meadow at flower-top height and dove in directly in front of me. Came out again very swiftly and composed itself [and its prey] on a sunflower [tournesol] head and then flew back towards the meadow.


Susan said...

Lovely. The snake is beautifully marked. I've never seen one so I am deeply envious. Round pupil, btw. I find Daniel Phillip's bi-lingual site is the most useful for information on amphibs and reptiles.

Tim said...

Corrected ma'am! It was 12 minuit when I typed it up... and I'd been de-painting our aulde cheminee all afternoon... seriously tho' thanks.
Who knows what we've got here? there are six acres of barely touched meadow the other side of the bridge!!

Anything could cross... at any time!

GaynorB said...

Hi Tim,
My daughter thinks that she saw one just like this (her scream frightened it away though, before anyone else caught a glimpse) at Haute Touche in the summer.
Thanks for the information about the router. We are currently waiting for a replacement from Linksys - we didn't mention the storm! However we did think we might get a spare, just in case. When we are in LP-P my husband needs to work from home so it is essential that we stay 'on line'.
Great pics, by the way and I enjoyed the interesting info about the local environment. Thanks.