Northern Watersnake Swallowing Prey by Todd Henson

Full view of the Northern Watersnake eating prey.

On a recent hike through a wildlife refuge I stumbled upon a Northern Watersnake on a rocky beach at the edge of the bay. After creating a couple photographs I noticed it was in the process of swallowing some form of prey. This was the first time I’d seen this in person.

Moving in a little closer to the Northern Watersnake.

Wanting a better look I slowly moved in closer, photographing as I did. I moved slowly and only got as close as I felt I could without stressing the snake. I never want to overly stress an animal when photographing.

Closer still, approaching the Northern Watersnake.

The snake never moved as I approached, all its energy focused on ingesting whatever it was it had captured. Even as I moved closer I still couldn’t identify what it was eating. If you can figure it out please let me know in the comments below. According to the Virginia Herpetological Society Northern Watersnakes primarily eat fish and amphibians, but do sometimes eat other prey such as small mammals.

I approached as close to the Northern Watersnake as I thought I could without causing it stress.

The light was difficult for these photographs. The snake’s head and the prey were in shadow, and the body was in full sun. I tried to balance the exposure in Lightroom, darkening the rocks while bringing out what details I could in the shadows. In these photos I wasn’t attempting to create artwork, but instead to document the species and try to identify what it was ingesting.

Zooming in on the head of the Northern Watersnake, its mouth open wide around its prey.

A closer look at the patterns on the body of the Northern Watersnake. They are more distinct when wet, but often become less so as it dries.

Click on any of the photos for a larger view.


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National Geographic Complete Birds of North America by Todd Henson

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America is one hefty birding resource. I’m not entirely sure what it weighs, but I wouldn’t want to drop it on my foot. It contains over 740 pages and measures approximately 7” x 10” and is about 1 3/4” thick.

You could think of this as a field guide on steroids, or perhaps a small birding encyclopedia. It has a layout and content very similar to most fields guides, but contains more information about each species. Some of the illustrations are smaller than in my Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, but with much more text about each species, providing descriptions, guides to identification, geographic ranges and variations, similar species, characteristics of voice, status & distribution, and breeding information. It contains maps, photographs, and illustrations.

Pages 200-201 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 200-201 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 322-323 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 322-323 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 354-355 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 354-355 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Many folks these days might not need a resource such as this, what with all the information freely available online. But I’ve always been a bit of a book lover, and I think this book would appeal to those of you who love holding a resource in your hands and flipping through the pages reading about different species. I’ll look up a specific species and end up spending much longer than anticipated flipping through reading about other species.

I have far too many field guides and bird books, but I’m still pleased to have added National Geographic Complete Birds of North America to my library. It’s the sort of large resource you keep at home where you can study and learn at your leisure, then head into the field to seek out first hand what you’d just read about and studied in the book.

 
 

Buzzing for Milkweed by Todd Henson

Buzzing for Milkweed, a bumble bee flying beside milkweed flowers.

I love random walks through parks, camera in tow, looking for anything that catches my eye. I don’t go with any specific goal other than enjoying nature, but I’m completely open to anything that catches my eye. Sometimes that may be a nesting osprey with its young, a raccoon bedding down for a nap, a group of young red fox playing, or a bumble bee gathering pollen from a patch of milkweed.

We walked a trail along the edge of the bay, with water to the left and swampy land to the right. Occasionally we’d see and follow a monarch or zebra swallowtail butterfly, which eventually led us to a small patch of milkweed. There I found bumble bees gathering pollen from the flowers.

A bumble bee gathering pollen on milkweed.

Bumble bees are great subjects. They just don’t care about the presence of people. Some insects will fly off when you get too close. This is often the case for me with butterflies. But bumble bees just go about their business completely ignoring my presence.

I used my macro lens and I slowly moved in close to the milkweed and the bumble bee, trying to follow it the best I could. Often it’s best to pick a spot the bee seems to like, prefocus, and just wait for the bee to enter that spot. But sometimes I’ll also try following the bee. It’s not always successful, but it’s fun. On this day I was very pleased to capture the photos I did, my favorite of which shows the bumble bee in flight as it was approaching the flower, buzzing for milkweed.

Both of these photographs are available for purchase through my online store, run by Fine Art America / Pixels.

Fine Art Photography Prints by Todd Henson

Fine Art Photography Prints by Todd Henson