Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Moving Stick

In a prior post I spoke of a prey hunting behavior performed by eastern coachwhips in which they rise up in a cobra-like stance. I was actually fortunate enough to observe and photograph this feat. Mind you had I not looked in one particular direction I would've certainly missed out entirely. In fact when my eye first picked up on it I thought I was looking at a stick, but then it began to move. I glassed the area with my binoculars and found instead that it was a coachwhip. As if it knew I was watching, it slowly and eerily turned its head and looked me dead in the eye. For anyone who is creeped out by snakes, this would've made their skin crawl. After taking a few pics I decided to approach it fully knowing that it would bolt and the second I began to move in its direction it dropped to the ground. I ran to the spot and found- nothing. It was as if it had disappeared. I walked a wide berth around the area where it had been spotted and never came across it. I then returned to my truck and waited patiently. Ten minutes later I began to see its head rise from the knee high hay in the same spot where it had been originally seen. What the hell??? This time I ran towards it and again it dropped to the ground, but I was able to see where it had gone- into a small hole. Pine voles inhabit this area and carve tunnels beneath the surface all over our property. These voles make for a hearty meal and it had probably been entering one of these tunnels in search of one. These tunnels also have more than one exit so it could escape just about anywhere. Again I waited to see if it would reappear, but unfortunately it was wise enough not to leaving me a bit disappointed.....
(Click on photo for a closer look)

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Anonymous Wayne said...

I too have read of this behavior, and it fits black racers too, which I'm more familiar with, but I've never observed it. What a fantastic photo and description. Good going.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Jace Stansbury said...


Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I was very pleased with the results of the photograph. I was so excited at the time I took it that I was afraid it was going to be blurred from the shaking of my hands!


7:34 PM  

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