What an exciting day! It began with a bang right inside the gate – a water moccasin, about 18 inches long, was making its way across the path. I know people freak out, but snakes are truly beautiful creatures. I love the way they move so smoothly and effortlessly. Yes, it’s important to maintain a healthy respect for the cotton mouth, as it’s also known. It is venomous and can be a bit aggressive, but usually only when threatened. I admired him from a safe distance, and it quickly vanished into the brush.
For a while along the trail, it appeared the snake would be the sole highlight of the day’s adventure. Not a meager highlight; I was excited to have found it since I had been hoping to see another after the huge one observed during an earlier visit to the peninsula. The walk to the far end of the path was quiet – literally. Usually I’m greeted with a lot of chatter from mockingbirds, but they were oddly absent tonight. Even the rabbits were deep undercover – that’s rare indeed.
On the return trip, though, I spotted the two YCNHs featured above. I am enchanted with the Yellow-crowned Night Heron and their young. I can’t say what it is about them that attracts me, but I’m mesmerized by them. I was honored to find this pair this evening. It was touching to see the young bird inch closer to the adult when it became aware of my presence. I didn’t want to disturb them, and finally they flew off. Next, just a little ways down the trail, our raccoon trio dashed across the path. The two young ones separated from their mother, crossed back to the other side and watched me nervously. They stayed close to each until finally mustering the courage to dash back across the trail.
And if all of that wasn’t enough to make my day a 10, who else showed up but the deer. She lingered longer today, studying me carefully before disappearing down the inside path.
Then the realization hit home. The peninsula truly is a small patch of yesterday–a tiny glimpse of what the area around Clear Lake might have looked like a century or two ago, before the boardwalks, the bulkheads, the built-up embankments; before the concrete, the homes, the neighborhoods; before the crape myrtles, sago palms, and Augustine grass; and long before the street lights, stadium lights and the neon security lights. It’s both sad and exciting that this little bit is left.
Then, as I was trying to get my head wrapped around that realization, the July full moon served up its own delightful treat. It was an incredible day, and night! And I am so grateful to be a tiny part of it.