Duck and Pungo Wildlife, Winter/Spring 1999

Between the move to Pungo and the place in Duck, we've encountered a bunch of wildlife recently.

They tell you to mow your lawn or you'll get snakes.  Ours got a bit long and I almost stepped on the proverbial "snake in the grass:"

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Don't know why the colors came out oddly like that; normally the Mavica's pretty good for colors.  A closeup looked better:

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According to Snakes of Virginia, this is an Eastern Garter Snake, thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis.  Odd; the garter snakes I recall from my youth had sold brown and yellow stripes.  It was just sunning itself in the grass, wasn't bothered by my presence and wouldn't move until I nudged it with a broom.

Another thing we find in the grass pretty often are crayfish chimneys.  Crayfish burrow into wet ground and apparently eat the dirt itself, extracting the food things and leaving pellets of clean dirt behind.  The dogs cornered one of the little guys the other day, as you see here.

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It was actually fairly good-sized, about five inches in length with the tail extended.   A couple dozen more and I wouldn't have let it go -- it would have been lunch.

Some neighborhoods have to deal with peeping toms.

We have peeping peacocks.

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In mid-May 1999 this peacock apparently ran away from home -- several farms nearby keep them around for decoration -- and no matter how much shooing-away we did, it would return.   The odd part was that it would hang around doorways and windows:

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Sort of like a stalker.

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Silently it waits by the door, imploring us to let it in...

Perhaps it knows that we harbor avians; who knows, maybe it can somehow sense Walter, our albino lutino cockateil. 

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In any case, there's something definitely attractive about the house to big birds.  In early April I was working with Christa, one of my book co-authors.  We were just taking a break on the back porch and heard a flutter of wings.  Turning around, we saw this.

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It appears to be a Golden Pheasant, most probably the Cinnamon Golden Pheasant.   It was pretty tame (and pretty clueless).  It's a pretty bird, note the head coloration.

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I wasn't completely sure it wasn't some kind of Asiatic chicken.

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It turned out that a neighbor raises them and this one had gotten away.  It was happily reunited with its owner and Darcee only had to spend three hours scraping pheasant poop off the tiles.  That stuff's like concrete!

The same day that the pheasant arrived, we came across a pond turtle.  It appears to be a Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta.

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A look under it shows striking red stripes.

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Since then I've seen some very large snapping turtles and an enormous (over one foot across) yellowbellied slider.  It was so old there was algae all across its carapace, but the plastron was a uniform yellow, hence the name.

Speaking of turtles, earlier, at Chesapeake, we had a visit from a snapping turtle:

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This winter a pair of deer apparently took up residence on the landward side of the ocean dune.  I saw them return to the same spot over and over.

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The marine exploration hasn't gone all that well but hey, I've been busy.  We hosted a hermit crab for a few days:

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Other wildlife includes a toad that actually shared a hole with a sand crab:

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Still working on dolphin pictures, they're a bit tougher to get, but now and then even the seagulls are prosaic.

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Some of the local birds are impressive.  Egrets and herons amaze me that they can fly at all.  I believe this is called a "Snowy Egret," although I wouldn't swear to it.

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And I think this is a Blue Heron, but again I ain't a bird guy.

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