Fair warning...."Lunch at the Lake" is not for the squeamish...nor is it for slow computers. Some pictures will reduce nicely for web pages, others will not. Some of these fall into the second catagory, and may open very slowly. For that, I apologize in advance.
Let me set the stage.
Shortly after I received my new Canon S3 for my birthday, we went fishing at Paradise Lake, where Richard and I, and my daughter Jill, and son-in-law, Jerry, have yearly memberships. Jerry had caught a 10-lb. cat before we arrived, but after we set up, the only person who caught anything was Richard. I was totally bored, and got out the S3 to take some pictures. I was snapping pretty blue dragonflies when Jill said..."Hey, mom....there's a snake over here."
YES! A photo opportunity! Sure enough, there was the biggest darn Northern Water Snake I had ever seen, right at the edge of the shore. Taking a closer look, it appeared to be acting strangely. So I zoomed in and saw that she was attempting what I thought would be an impossible feat. She was trying to eat a blue gill large enough to fillet.
Here she is....with the fish sideways in her mouth. You can see the fish's mouth, facing you. It certainly isn't going down in that direction....but she knows that,. and will soon rectify the situation..
I'll tell you why I'm sure she's a "she" later, but let me tell you a little about Northern Water Snakes first.
Most important, they are non-venomous. They are carnivores, eating most meals alive...will basically eat anything that lives in, or ventures too near the water. [Anything it can choke down it's gullet, that is] However, they are also scavengers, and will take advantage of a dead fish too. That's what this big ol' gal was doing....as we had seen the fish lying on the shoreline earlier.
OK. Here's why I'm sure she's a female. Besides the fact that she was HUGE, and the females are alway the large ones...in this shot, she just got joined for lunch. Although I don't think her dinner date has sushi on his mind. My daughter saw this and I heard her mutter..."Oh great, now mom's going to shoot a snake porno."
There was no doubt in my mind what he was after, as he was in the classic mating position, chin on her back, tail twined around hers. I snapped a few shots, but couldn't get what I really wanted to see....if this snake with a head the size of a quarter could swallow a 4" x 7" fish with sharp fins on every corner. I took a chance and tried to get her to move into my line of fire. I jabbed them with my fishin' pole. Yeah, yeah...I know...I'm a party pooper. Romeo took off, probably to find colder water...and as luck would have it...Juliet slithered farther ashore and turned to face me head on. PERFECT!! What a stroke of luck!
By this time she has turned the fish around and has the head and gills rammed down her throat. Her lower jaw is un-hinged, and she is starting to look like something out of "ANACONDA".
She still has a lot of fish to work her jaws around, and she does a lot of contortionistic maneuvers. She is starting to make a believer out of me, because the widest part of the blue gill is now in her mouth.
Now, even for me....THIS is GROSS! She looks positively deformed.
Here you can plainly see that the fish has moved several inches down her body. Once she turned toward me this whole process only took a few minutes, and the fish moved from her throat to this position in mere seconds.
This was an amazing experience for all of us who got to watch it. I wouldn't have missed it. This was one of the few times I DID have a camera when I needed it.