Friday, August 22, 2014


In Jackson Harbor Wednesday, Aug. 20, Christian Ronning
fished alongside a veteran, a friendly cormorant.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

We'll try to make up for lost time and gaps in blog postings by giving you your money's worth in photos and trivia today.

In the above photo a cormorant rested after consuming a bullhead on the concrete below the launch ramp pier.  It hopped onto the pier in a friendly move, next to Christian Ronning who was fishing with his dad, Karl (at end of pier, in background.)  When we landed with the Karfi, about 20 minutes earlier, this bird was drying its feathers at the end of the dock.  But now, after fishing and eating it was preening itself, unfazed by human presence.  I was at first suspicious of its health, but knowing it had consumed a fish that it had caught,  defecated on the dock, then went back in the water to dive for more fish, this bird seemed perfectly normal except for tolerating, or liking, humans.

We haven't observed that bird since Wednesday.   Could it have been someone's pet?

Goodness snakes alive!

For most of this summer we've seen very few snakes and then only from a distance.  One was in the beak of a Great Blue Heron that flew over the water.  From our point of view, that's the best possible place to see a snake, as consumption by the large bird will soon follow.

But recently, maybe due to molting, we've seen many more, including this pile of garter snakes on and around a much larger fox snake, at the base of a birdhouse in front of our home.  For much of the day, if the sun is out to warm the boards, they come up on the boardwalk surface.

After counting the snakes (there were more snakes than fingers) though binoculars from the safety of our home porch, over 75 feet away, Mary Jo was entertained, as a kid might be watching a horror show, afraid to get closer but afraid to look away for fear of missing something.
Finally, when the afternoon fog lifted and the sun came out, the fox snake crawled on top of the boardwalk, with its head down over the water side of the pilings.  Thor snagged it for a measurement.   It measured 4 1/2 feet, give or take fractions of an inch.  We also observed several garter snakes in the same area, independent of the group pile, that would easily have measured three feet.  Healthy specimens, all.

This morning, around 8:30, I had photographed a garter snake's head poking through the boards at the Bayou, and I believe its vision was impaired by molting, for it chose not to duck back under the boards as it would normally have done.  The large fox snake Thor caught also appeared to be in the early stages of molting.


Thor then photographed two dragonflies trying out a Kama Sutra attitude before he spotted yet another, somewhat rare sight in our lawn, not but a few feet from where snakes were sunning themselves.  It was a female wolf spider, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter with egg sack attached.  Thor photographed it just as it left its ground hole lair.

Later, I read that the female wolf spider may have as many as 100 eggs, and that these eggs eventually hatch in her sack before she breaks it open to release them.

I'm reconsidering whether or not we want 100 small wolf spiders underfoot.  But…too late, for it's already found a new home beneath the boardwalk.

That's all the news for today.   Tomorrow, we'll go with the meat-eater's diet of pork, beef and chicken at the airport, hoping to sample at least a good representation of Death's Door BBQ competitor team products.

-  Dick Purinton

No comments: