19 July 2015

Scratch that

Isn't it always the way? As soon as I posted about the dry dry dry and hot hot hot weather we've been having for what seems like months, yesterday turned out to be a rainy day. We didn't get enough rain to really wet the ground thoroughly, but it was enough to raise our humidity levels to record highs (that's just my impression).

At about 8 p.m., we started having thunder and lightning, but it wasn't very close and didn't last very long. The raindrops were big and fat. When it brightened up outdoors a few minutes later, I took the photos above and below out of one of our loft-space windows. We'd already had drizzly showers for much of the day.

I had a hard time getting to sleep after going to bed at 10, because of the heat and humidity. Just as I was dozing off, there was another little thundershower, with lightning closer that time, and loud thunder, but little or no rain. Callie started barking at the noise. Then at 2 a.m. Callie went wild barking again, and all the lights seemed to come on at one time. I opened my eyes to see Walt trying to chase a bat out of the room and Callie chasing around wildly barking at it. What a night!

By the way, here's another photo of that headless snake out in the vineyard. I'm posting it at a small size so you don't really have to look at it if you don't want to. You can click or tap on it to enlarge the image. I still wonder what killed it. Maybe it got run over by a tractor.

Callie gives the photo some scale. She was only slightly curious about the strange thing and didn't linger over it. As I said in a comment this morning on yesterday's post, this is not what would be called a grass snake in the U.S., as far as I know.


  1. I don't know what kind of weather they had in Paris yesterday, but here in Normandy we had some rain, for a change!, and it was much cooler.

    1. Our high temperature yesterday was 28ºC. With humidity, it felt like 35.

  2. We had 2.4mm over the day... very welcome... 2.4mm penetrates the soil to 24mm... at almost 1" it gets to all the shallow rooted plants....
    especially things like salad veg, grass and clover.... it may well be the saving of the bumblebees and others... it has been very obvious to me that they've been having difficulty with feeding on plants like clover.

    The colour, the line of small spots near the belly scales say Grass Snake [Natrix natrix] to me... as does the distance from the anus to the tail tip... the Western Whiptail has a much longer, whip-like tail... hence the name.
    This shot is useful as it clearly shows that the head end has been "torn" off... not clean cut...
    and actually says to me that a bird of prey caught it, despatched it and flew off... with the whole snake.
    His Mrs. would have been very annoyed that he arrived home with only about a foot of meat...
    this snake was about a foot longer than you found... a really big adult at around four foot.
    I would hazard a guess at Common Buzzard... in French it is much more correctly named as the Buze variable...
    almost no two birds are alike! We have one around here that is easily mistaken for an Osprey!!

    Buzzards often take snakes... usually smaller than this, but they will be feeding young still if they nested late...
    and I think that it gripped the body too tight and it broke off in flight... it fell to the ground where you found it.
    The buze, if it was powering back to the nest, probably didn't notice!!

    On the subject of grass snakes...
    you will notice that I use capital letters when I refer to a species...
    as opposed to lower case for a collective name...
    the Western Whiptail is also a grass snake by nature...
    both prefer long, humid grass...
    my guess, again, is that this snake was caught well away from the vineyard...
    in some longer grassed, more humid environment.


  3. We had several proper heavy rainshowers yesterday morning and afternoon. By evening it was clear and I went on the town nocturnal guided walk.

  4. We got 5 mm of rainfall yesterday. We needed it too.

    About the snake, it is very hard to compare North American and European species and names. Grass snake to me has always meant something different from what it means to you so it's confusing. Look up "smooth green snake" in Wiki and you get:

    The smooth greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis) is a nonvenomous North American colubrid. It is also referred to as the grass snake. It is a slender, "small medium" snake that measures 36–51 cm (14–20 in) as an adult.

  5. We need more rain!
    Our garden (such as it us) looks very parched, as does yours. We would like to sow more grass seed to make the place look better but there's no point so we will have to put up with it for now.

  6. i think i messed up my comment... apologies if this shows up in duplicate.
    it never occurred to me that you would have snakes there. the snakes we have around here kill rats so i would think that would be good for the vineyard...and you'd think they would have left it. (otoh, they also eat eggs and chicks so it doenst always work out for us to leave them around here). i'm wondering if it was a tractor also. our dogs think that snakes are hilarious - sticks that move! the result is sometimes hilarious. ;-) give Callie smooches from me - and how is Bertie getting along in the heat?

  7. We had a thunder shower last night- we needed it, too. Last week we kept our granddog who gets three walks a day (we spoil her). On one of the walks we came across two dead rats and one dead king snake (a pity- kings are wonderful snakes). They were in different sections of the road. Rosie was a bit interested in the rats, but totally bolted away from the snake. Smart dog!
    The vines look very healthy this year.

  8. A bat...that would certainly get my attention!

    I can see the grass is stressing from lack of water. Don't they say dry years make for good wines?

  9. http://www.reedysreptiles.com/fullsize/atra.jpg
    a black whip snake. Not poisonous. Do you think that is what you found, beheaded ?
    I grew up in the Southern US and we used to get these long huge snakes that went under our house for the summer to be cool.
    My California girl mother would be hysterical. With good reason, she went out to the car one day and the snake was just laying across the walk , in front of the car door. She was unable to get in the car. Not to mention she has "snake phobia" lol .. I was told the same thing about having a snake around, they eat rodents. I would rather just call an exterminator but that might just be me.


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