Well, famous last words. Today has been a red letter day, and so I just had to do one more post.
Sunrise. Words are inadequate.
A walk in the field by the barn, and a large Garter Snake, Thamnopis sirtalis, about 18 inches long, slides through the grass.
I come back later, and quietly wait for a closer look:*
Garter snakes are not poisonous, and they tolerate the cold well, giving birth to up to 85 (!) live young as late as early October.
Then, the epiphany. All summer long, all my beaver ponds have been beaver-free zones, I have been mourning their absence. Now, on my very last day, they return. This tree is freshly cut:
And as I get ready to post this I have just discovered that he has finished the job.:
Down on the brook are branches from which the beaver has stripped the bark to eat the cambium. So I am thrilled, but also sad, because they have selected two of my apple trees as their victims, which is not good.
When I go back to the house, lo and behold underneath my tree is the first raccoon I have ever seen in daylight.
With that highwayman’s mask:
When I got too close, he fled up the tree. He went right up to the top fork. If you look closely there is small blob in the fork, and that’s him (or her).:
He hunkered down:
He settled in for a while, so I went inside to do some packing, and on my return, he was back at ground level, foraging.
And then he headed off:
As do I.
* I was once taught that poisonous snakes had keeled scales, and nonpoisonous ones didn’t, but this garter snake is non-poisonous, yet has keeled scales.
PS Autumnwatch in both the UK, and the US, have been using footage from my house. first of fighting red squirrels, and then nocturnal footage of flying squirrels and raccoons, all photographed by Mark Yates.. If you are interested, you can see it on BBC2 in the UK (and on iPlayer), and PBS in the USA.