On the day that I saw my lifer Merlin at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, I turned around from the Merlin to find a Pied-billed Grebe in distress. The poor grebe had a snake around its neck! I don’t know exactly how that started. Was the snake trying to kill the bird? Or did the bird attack the snake, and the snake was just defending itself? Either way, I found myself saying “Somebody help that poor bird!” Snakes make really bad necklaces…
The grebe swam about quickly, trying to pull the snake off. He twisted back and forth, trying to grab the snake with his beak…
Apparently violent shaking of the neck only makes the snake tighten his noose. :(
Finally the bird gripped the snake and started to unwrap it.
Yay! The bird seemed to be winning as he unraveled the snake.
The bird dove under the water at this point, and I stood watching, not wanting to leave until I saw the bird emerge from the water snake-free. I know grebes can stay under the water for a long time, and they can swim pretty good distances while they are under water. But after a few minutes, the bird still hadn’t come up! I saw a couple of splashes, but no bird. I was really sad.
Then I saw a bird emerge farther down. Undoubtedly it was my bird, and undoubtedly it was snake-free. The poor bird was stretching its neck repeatedly, shaking and flexing and generally showing relief in having full control of its neck again. Hooray!
The people on the wildlife drive crack me up. As I grinned at the bird’s good luck, someone drove by and asked me if I was photographing an alligator.
Nope, not exactly.
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You always take the most interesting pictures! My heart was beating, hoping that the bird would free itself. I could almost feel the snake around my own neck! Funny how most of us would probably root for the bird and not the snake :)
I took a picture of a gull in St Augustine this week and was excited to see that it had something in its mouth and I thought “finally! I can be like Jess and have a picture of a bird actually eating some other critter!” but it was just a bit of kelp. I guess birds also need their greens.
I’ve been wanting to go back to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive since last May but I always forget to. I just blocked time on my calendar to do this soon. Thanks for the great pictures!
Thanks Nathalie! You never know about those pieces of kelp…last time I took a photo like that, it turned out to be a seahorse! Maybe I will run into you on the LAWD soon. I haven’t been a few weeks…but when the migrants start showing up on Lust, you won’t be able to tear me away!
Sounds exciting!! Maybe not for the bird but definitely for the photographer. Where is the gator photo? 😎
Haha, the gators haven’t let me photograph them ever since you all tried to use me as gator bait! ;-)
LOL!! That was a fun day and I had a blast doing that photo.