Two snake day at Orlando Wetlands Park

Last weekend, we went biking at Orlando Wetlands Park. It was the last weekend to visit before the park closes for the winter, and quite a nice day. We actually saw a fair variety of birds- including a lifer painted bunting, a pair of somewhat early canvasbacks, five species of warbler, a kestrel, and a Wilson’s snipe. You can tell it’s winter in Florida when the shrubs are hopping with yellow-rumped and palm warblers, and they were in fine form at OWP.

One thing about bike-birding that I’d never really thought about before is that it’s much easier to spot snakes before you get too close to them. This is a net positive, as far as I’m concerned 🙂 We saw two species of rattlesnake today, both crossing the berm trail or maybe sunning on it, and both only moderately put out at us riding by.

I’ve seen eastern diamondback rattlesnakes before, and this one was only about two feet or so long. Still, I was more than happy to let it do its thing in peace. We gave it a pretty wide berth, but not before Yan stopped and took a photo:

OWP rattler Nov13

Eastern diamondback rattlesnake. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

The pygmy rattlesnake I hadn’t seen before, bringing me four for four on seeing Central Florida’s venomous species (the other two being the cottonmouth and coral snake). This snake was a bit over a foot long, and much more petite than the diamondback. Notice how tiny the rattle is? It’s on the right end:

OWP mini rattler Nov13

Pygmy rattlesnake (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

While Yan was taking this photo, he said it started to rattle at him in sort of a cute, hard-to-hear way. At that point, he left it alone and we biked on.

So, not a terribly exciting pair of snake sightings, but I’m okay with that. We did encounter some fairly territorial dragonflies who seemed irritated at our presence (the males seem to do this guarding thing at certain times of the year). But since we’re way past the Carboniferous Period dragonflies with 2-foot wingspans, they weren’t particularly intimidating. The 6-foot gator we saw was a bit more threatening, but he was pointed away from us at the time. Strangely, we didn’t get off our bikes to take photos of him…

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