Saturday, 7 July 2007

Drowning Dragons and swimming snakes...

I had a hundred things I needed to do. I'd been putting off servicing the car, using the bad weather as an excuse, but today it was so sunny.....Suddenly I found myself speeding down a country lane, the kayak already strapped to the roof. I couldn't miss a day like today, it had been raining for sooooo long.

The canal up by Dunstall was really busy with longboats and everyone seemed to be in a good mood, waving and shouting hello. All the wildlife was out too. Kingfishers, swallows, fish galore. The Mallard chicks were pretending to be invisible as the kayak approached and the Moorhen chick had to be shooed away and eventually led back to its home after mistaking me for mom!

As I passed through Hopwas into the wooded section of the canal, there was a commotion ahead. The water was splashing as the fish were showing a keen interest in something. As I got closer I could see what they were after, a huge dragonfly trapped by the surface tension.

It grasped onto the outstretched paddle with obvious relief. Transferred onto a dry sponge it proceeded to unstick its wings.

After a while it seemed much revived, and as I held him in the sunshine to dry I swear it had a grin on its face!

Some pre-flight checks and a quick wipe of the eyes and it was ready to go. With a clatter of wings it was off.

Just as one drama was over, another one unfolded. The wooded side of the canal has a shallow earth bank but the other side towards the river is a vertical steel edge bordering the towpath. I could see a snake lunging at this in a vain attempt to get out. Paddling over to see if I could help, I was quickly spotted. The little chap, (well I say little it was about one and a half foot long) decided to head my way and see if it could get out on the kayak.

Luckily, while I was debating in my head as to whether I wanted to share such a small boat with a snake, it decided to carry on past.

Then as I swung the boat around, it was off. I never realised they could swim so fast, a good walking pace at least.

Two flicks of a tail and it was home and dry.

On the way back to the car I spotted two more Grass snakes. Until this year I had not seen any since I was a kid, now I see them all the time. I assume it is the mild winters we have now that favour them. Nice to know that global warming isn't all bad....


secret agent said...

The photo's are incredible!!! Are you a photographer?? If not, you should be.
I also admire your willingness to help the snake.

Blue the Spa Girl said...

Unreal Barky. Totally magnificent photo of the dragonfly. I am in awe of that macro feature. Super definition on his smiling little face!
Re; my post, yes, a little Sherry works well in jam too. What are damsons?

photowannabe said...

Amazing shots of the dragonfly. He looks like some kind of alien creature.
Great pictures of the snake too though I wouldn't have tried to help it. Basically I'm a chicken.
Thanks for your visit to my blog and your comments.

Come again anytime.

JoAnn-NL said...

Hi, Thankyou for visiting my "fog" cows today,( just today there's fog , Haha!) you are showing really amazing hoto's while you were making that Kayak trip! Great animal in the canal, and the 'bugs/dragonfly and snake' are so CLEAR on the photo... "as if I was there" brrrrr.

It's like an "animal Planet" reportage, I enjoyed looking at your blog, I'll visit it again for sure.

Bye JoAnn from holland

annulla said...

Fantastic photos! I can't believe that you captured a smiling dragonfly. Just amazing work. Kudos to you!

Blather From Brooklyn

new girl said...

Amazing photographs and story! I guess I need to kayak more (or once would be a start)!

Thanks for coming by today (or was it yesterday?) -- now I see you must have found me via Secret Agent...I read a couple posts back and seems as though you have a few friends in the China adoption community.

Elisa, Jarrod & Thomas said...

Wow the dragonfly was really really smiling!

Totally amazing pics!!

Lesley said...

I love dragonflies and snakes! Those are really great pictures too!

Angela Marie said...

Wow! What great photos! I don't think that I have ever seen a dragonfly that up close! Beautiful!

I had to gasp reading that you wanted to help the snake... I am all for helping when needed. But, I don't know about sharing the boat with a snake! I had to laugh when I continued to read and then you said it! What a guy!

Thank you for your comment you left!

Christine said...

Wow! What lens do you have/use?
I must have - how awesome those closeups are.
I am so jealous.
The amazing outdoors - you captured a great piece of it today.

barkfoot said...

No 'special' lens, I just use the stills camera built into my video camera. It is quite low res (0.8 megapixel), but I've found the 'get close as you can' technique seems to get results!

Holly said...

Hi. I'm Holly and I had saw you had left a comment on my blog. I will continue to stop by your blog and look forward to reading it!

Sharon said...

Wow, what wonderful photos. That insect reminded me of a helicopter.

And as for the snake they are great & useful creatures but I prefer that they keep their distance!

vicci said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog....I am enjoying yours! The dragonfly photos are awesome...don't think I've ever seen one that close up.....he does look like he is grinning! :-)
When is your birthday? I see you are a fellow cancerian!! Mine is July 21.......

barkfoot said...

Hi, July 14th, feelin old!