Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cryptic Critters

When I took this photo of a Great Blue Heron and its reflection, I did not know that a deer was watching from the seclusion of the wooded grove on the other side of the water:

 Deer photobombs heron 01-20140915

Sunrise from our back patio:

 Sunrise 20180308

Early one morning, I almost stepped on these three newly hatched Killdeer chicks, huddled at the edge of the gravel track. I had unknowingly walked by their nest many times previously:

Three Kildeer Chicks 2-20090416

Killdeer eggs are also very hard to find. This courageous female stood defiantly in my way. At first I did not see the four eggs in the nest she was protecting, just to the right in this photo:

Killdeer at nest PowerShot 01-20170617

Another incubating Killdeer is nearly invisible:

Killdeer incubating 5-20160529

It's hard to believe that a male Painted Bunting might be included among the "Cryptic Critters" I have encountered: 

Painted Bunting 02-20170301

Yet, here he is in a Brazilian Pepper, almost overlooked against the green leaves, red berries and blue sky:

Painted Bunting male camo 20170130

The bright green female Painted Bunting can sometimes be very hard to find among the leaves:

Painted Bunting female 02-20170219

A Wilson's Snipe is very easy to overlook amid the grass and sedges. It is in the center of this photo at the edge of the water (click to enlarge):

Couldn't find the snipe 20121202

See it better in this crop of the above photo:

Wilson's Snipe found 20121202

It is nice when one comes out into the open:

Wilson's Snipe 20130102

I almost did not see this Limpkin, standing right behind a White Ibis:

Limpkin and White Ibis 20160221

This is a clearer view of a Limpkin hunting for Apple Snails:

Limpkin hunting 20120219

This American Bittern is watching me intently:

American Bittern 4-20180104

A study of stealth in slow motion, the bittern can disappear right before one's eyes:

Bittern stepping 20110123

American Bittern 3-20110123

American Bittern 20110323

So, the lesson in all of this is to tread lightly and watch where you step. Fire ant nests are often not this easy to find:



When birding in marshy areas I spend almost as much time looking down at my next footfall as looking up. I followed a little muddy deer trail and nearly stepped on something even more dangerous. I did not see it as I was taking photos of scenery and distant falcons. Then, as I turned to walk back to the main path, I saw something next to my foot which looked like a small yellow insect fluttering its wings-- an odd dragonfly or moth? No, as I bent down for a closer look I saw it was the vibrating yellow tail of a juvenile venomous Cottonmouth water moccasin .

It was in a defensive posture. When I moved, it opened its jaws wide and straight up. However the lining of its mouth was not white as is the case of adult Cottonmouths.

It was so well camouflaged that I could not see it in the viewfinder. The muddy foot path is on the left in this photo and I took several shots just to be sure one of them included the snake. It is on the right side of the path just beneath the very center of this picture (click to enlarge).

Cottonmouth Moccasin 02-20180214

Its yellow tail is near the upper left corner of this photo:

Cottonmouth Moccasin 01-20180214

It is only about 10-12 inches long. Here its mouth is partly open:

Cottonmouth Moccasin 03-20180214

Baby Cottonmouths are born alive. Unlike adults, they are colorfully banded and "...juveniles have bright-yellow tail tips that they use as a caudal lure to attract prey. They undulate the tail tip slowly back and forth to lure prey, such as frogs, within striking distance." Ref:

Here is a better photo of a "Yellow-tail" which I took back in 2011. It was sitting out in the open in the middle of a muddy path:

Cottonmouth 20111001

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. A wonderful post as usual Kenneth and you certainly were able to find a lot of hidden birds while out birding. ove ths Snipe close up shot. Have a great weekend.

  2. Wonderful wildlife photos. I would wear snake boots in these marsh areas. Glad you avoided being bitten.

  3. Those eggs are remarkably well camouflaged. What a surprise it must have been to see that deer in the background of your reflection photo.

  4. I love this post -- you made it easy for us to spot these wonderful birds ... and the snake! Makes me realize how much I probably miss when we're walking. Sigh. I have stumbled on kildeer nests --mostly where we live in Oregon -- I'm surprised Mama Kildeer didn't do the limp-run to lure you away. (I always want to apologize to them -- wish they knew I'd never hurt her babies).

  5. The way snakes blend in so well is what is scary (aside from the risk of a bite). They leave you alone if you leave them alone, but almost impossible not to accidentally step on them. Great post!

  6. That was a great walk, full of surprises, both good and not so good. Good even that Mr. Young Snake didn't try out your leg for lunch!

  7. Some beautiful shots, thanks for sharing :)

  8. Hello, awesome series of photos. I love the heron with the deer! The Painted Bunting is a beautiful bird. The Snipe and Bitterns do blend in well with their surroundings. I love the sweet Killdeer chicks. The snake is scary. Thank you for linking and sharing your post. I also appreciate your visit and comment. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  9. Outstanding reflections once again! You find the most amazing birds.

  10. Amazing photos of amazing critters. Nature's camouflage is as perfect as it gets.
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  11. My husband sat down next to me to see the snake photos. We are always aware but so rarely see a snake that we are not as cautious as we should be. We did see a Pygmy Rattlesnake last month. It was tiny and right on the trail in front of us. It's hard to look in every direction when you're hiking! Have a good weekend!

  12. Those eggs are remarkably well camouflaged. What a surprise it must have been to see that deer in the background of your reflection photo.

  13. Ken - as someone who has stood in a fire ant hill, I know the value of looking where I step! Isn't it amazing how our eyes can at times be better/worse than a camera? I don't really mean worse - it's just that we are focused on something in particular, but the camera captures everything that is in view. And better in the sense that our eyes can discern objects that the camera hides because we know what we are looking at. Fascinating. Thanks for these terrific shots!

  14. I'm shaken by the snake! Loved the painted bunting though.

  15. Great set of shots. I'm always surprised how hard it can be to see Rainbow Lorikeets when you can hear them in a tree.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  16. Not a fan of snakes, but I am told to beware here in Oklahoma. Now instead of my walking shoes, I wear boots. Love the surprise deer peeking at the heron. I love surprises.

  17. I have experienced fire ants once. That was plenty for me, I assure you!
    Thanks for linking up at

  18. Scary shots of the cottonmouth! Wow! Loved the limpkin in the reeds and the reflective shots. Such a great reminder though to look down as much as up!

  19. Beautiful image the building You chose well for the theme.

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