An arachnophobe, a hemophobe, and an ophidiophobe walk into a forest…

(Arachnophobia: fear of spiders and scorpions. Hemophobia: fear of blood. Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes.)

In any job dealing with wildlife in the field, you’re eventually going to have to deal with things many people find frightening, disgusting, or just plain creepy. I have caught and been bitten by snakes, walked through countless spiderwebs, and waded around in ponds with a thick layer of scum on the surface.

One of my projects in the summer was to trap, measure, mark, and release snakes. To that end, my co-workers and I set up giant X-shaped silt fence arrangements with a trap in the center and buckets as pitfall traps at each end. The buckets were covered with little plywood tables to provide shade. One day I lifted up one of the plywood tops and found this:

Arachnophobe's Nightmare
Arachnophobe’s Nightmare

That is a pigmy rattlesnake in the bucket. Next to it is a very large wolf spider. On the underside of the plywood is a black widow spider and the dried-out corpse of a scorpion. An arachnophobe’s nightmare.

Continue reading An arachnophobe, a hemophobe, and an ophidiophobe walk into a forest…

Weekly Photo Challenge: A very forgiving Pigmy Rattlesnake

This week’s photo challenge was “Beneath Your Feet.”

Pigmy Rattlesnake
Pigmy Rattlesnake

Pigmy rattlesnakes always look disgruntled, but this one has a really good reason!

It blended in so well, and I was paying so little attention, that I didn’t see it until I was bringing my foot down. I didn’t have time to stop it. I stepped right on it, trying at the last instant not to put too much weight on it.

Next thing I knew, I was standing about six feet away. I think I made an inarticulate squeak as I jumped away.

The snake never tried to strike at me. It just coiled up tighter and glared. I took a quick photo and then I left it alone. Every stick and leaf looked like a snake for the rest of the day.

Post All The Links!

Conveniently, the WordPress.com community is running a Blogging 101 course just as I’m starting this site, so I’m using it to help me get the blog off the ground. As a result, there will be more posts about the process of blogging in the next few weeks than there would ordinarily be. The assignment for Day 1 was writing an introduction post. Day 2 was selecting a title (and tag line, which I still need to do). And now it’s Day 3, and I’m supposed to follow 5 tags and 5 new blogs.

Of course I have interests other than wildlife photography. I write science fiction. I grow vegetables. I climb (badly) at the local rock gym. I’m always happy to find easy vegetarian recipes. And I’m not too shabby at orienteering.

But, really, if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably looking for nature photos, or at least outdoors-related content, right? Okay, here are five blogs you might like:

  • Living Alongside Wildlife: What kind of snake did you just find? Email a photo to David Steen, and his commenters will happily ID it for you.
  • Eaten By Bears:  How do you enjoy the outdoors when you can’t hike? Brandon blogs about UTV-ing in the wilds of Montana.
  • Back Yard Biology: Mother and daughter bloggers photograph and write about the species they find in Minnesota.
  • Nature Has No Boss: full of beautiful wildlife and landscape photography.
  • Naturally South Australia: Barry Silkstone’s photos and essays from a part of the world I know nothing about.

Or perhaps you’d like funny stories about the mishaps scientists have in the field?

In that case, you need to go over to Twitter and check out #fieldworkfail right now. Here’s my contribution:

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