26 September 2009

Beauty's double meaning

The front page of today's Advertiser (prominently) and the Adelaide Now website ( less prominently) print this photo taken by a reader at Gawler earlier this week on a sunny day.


It shows a red-bellied black snake approaching a duck (identified as a "Moscovy " by the paper at p14 and a " Muscovy" by the website) .

Snake-Away snake catcher Ian Renton said it was likely the snake was feasting on ducklings and was chasing the mother duck away.

"The duck is way too big for the snake to eat so it probably would not be entertaining that side of things," he said.

Or was the mother duck attempting to interpose herself between the reptile and her brood? The Advertiser published a couple of other photos which are clearly part of a sequence taken in quick succession. It would be good to see more of them or to hear what happened.

While red-bellied black snakes are venomous their venom is (I believe) not normally strong enough to kill a human. They are also very attractive, as Judith Wright put it so succinctly in her poem "The Cedars":

The snake, the fang of summer, beauty's double meaning,
shifts his slow coils and feels his springtime hunger.

As I recently posted my most recent snake sighting was on 20 July this year in the Adelaide Hills (near Tungkillo) when it was much warmer than it's been for the last couple of days. If, as I hope to, I get out and about when the springlike weather returns, I'll expect to come across other snakes. When I do so I'll keep my distance but also try to take a photo or two.

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