Friday, June 12, 2009

Snake Redux

We have some soffit and fascia that needs to be replaced on a corner of our front porch roof. It has been needing repair for quite some time, actually. Starlings have taken to nesting inside it. This morning, as Elly was leaving for work, I stepped up on the front porch wall to take a closer look and was startled to see a snake poking its head out of the soffit. I'm not sure it was the same black rat snake we saw on our back porch because its head seemed quite a bit larger than the last one. It must have climbed up the stone pillar on that corner to go in and visit the starlings. Black rat snakes are reputedly excellent climbers, and now we have evidence that such is the case.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Backyard Safari

I got a start yesterday afternoon when I went to turn on our birdbath fountain. I thought to myself, hmmmm, I wonder who put that stick behind here . . . it looks a lot like a snake. Then it dawned on me that it IS A SNAKE!!!! I'm not an expert in matters herpetologic and initially thought our visitor was a bull snake. But, Dan Johnson, a friend from the Kansas City astronomy club I belong to, who sometimes counts snakes in his spare time to assist local herpetology research, told me it is a black rat snake. They are wide spread in Missouri and reach lengths up to 6 feet. Our visitor was a good three feet. Mature adults are mostly black. This one is not full grown and still showing obvious markings. They get darker as they mature. I gently encouraged it to vacate the porch, where upon it took up residence UNDER our porch.

Rat snakes (among others) are useful critters to have about for rodent control and such. It didn't seem particularly aggressive, either. Elly is more pleased about the new resident than I am, oddly enough. Her theory is that the snake has been with us for quite a while, and we've only just now noticed it. Possibly. Anyway, I think urban ecology is a good thing, but am definitely watching my step in the backyard now. Here are a few more pictures.

After those somewhat scary pictures, a nice charming picture of Basie, who decided to ensconce himself in one of our yard chairs Sunday afternoon, seems like a good idea.

We went to one of our favorite garden suppliers earlier in the day, Sunshine Flowers, and got plants for some of our terracotta pots, which we had decided to arrange on our side patio. In particular, we decided to make some parsley pots with both curly and flat leaf parsley, as well as bee balm and cilantro. This is Elly's potting bench, which I built from lumber recovered from a small deck at the back of our yard which we weren't using. We have decided to convert the area into a garden featuring a dogwood tree as a memorial for Samba.

Here is one of the flower pots Elly arranged. I noticed the yellow flower, a Gazania Red Stripe, at the garden center and Elly worked several of them into the arrangements.

We placed four pots on each end of our patio.

After all the gardening, we were both ready for some backyard reading (supervised by Basie, naturally).

One more picture of the Gazania Red Stripe.