By Leanne Heisler and Allie Gallon
Well, what a whirlwind this past week has been! I’d have to say it was one of the best weeks so far. Let me tell you, Big Muddy has definitely lived up to its name though, with all the rain we’ve had. However, we have found some treasures amongst it all!
Leanne and I started off the week with our usual traps set up and then afterwards we searched for our slithering friends! We hiked up and down slopes of hills, searched every bush and rock we could lay our eyes upon. Nothing crossed our path until the weather started to warm and the sun started to shine a bit brighter. Leanne then spotted a Yellow-bellied Racer, threw down her stuff and sprinted after the speedy reptile! Suddenly it was there and then gone again in a flash! Unfortunately the lightning fast racer found a hole to take refuge in, so we were snakeless once again! While Leanne was chasing the racer, I had made my way to the bottom of the slope and walked along the road. I walked past Smooth Bromegrass that was up to my waist, and flowering, fragrant Silverberry shrubs. Then I spotted a lovely blue, iridescent beetle sitting on a Silverberry bush. So with my bug net in hand I went for the beetle, and then saw something slither by my feet! I immediately dropped the net and went after that snake! I caught her just in time, and in my hands I held a gorgeous 1.5 metre long Bullsnake! (In my net was that beetle too - jackpot!)
Allie and Henrietta
I am so thankful we caught Henrietta (that’s the name we gave the Bullsnake), her catch made my day!
The next day we caught a good haul of rodents such as Deer and Jumping mice, and insects with our malaise and vein traps and our insect nets, and even found two more snakes!
Smooth Green Snake
Leanne caught a tiny Smooth Green Snake and a juvenile Plains Garter Snake: both equally wiggly and cute! Later on in the week I spotted a racer when I was walking back, and it was where Leanne had spotted the other one! Unfortunately, racers: Allie - 2 and Leanne – 0. We are determined to catch them this week** though, even if it means lunging ourselves into poky juniper bushes!
From left to right
Veterinarian, Dr. Tracy Fisher; Allie Gallon; Dr. Ray Poulin (Research Scientist with the RSM and lead for the Bio-Blitz project)
Snake Surgery Saturday was this week as well, and was also really incredible! Our snake, Henrietta, along with five other Bullsnakes caught by the Sask Landing team, were getting transmitters implanted. These radio transmitters will help us track the snakes to learn how far they move, where they go, and possibly even lead us to what den they call home! For each snake, precise incisions were made, transmitters were carefully implanted, and then they were all stitched back up by Dr. Tracy Fisher! (Thank you Dr. Fisher!) It was such a neat experience to be able to watch and assist. As I was holding one of the snakes after their surgery, (waiting for it to return to it’s normal self) I had a moment when I thought to myself: Yeah my job is pretty cool…
Well, that is all that has happened for us this week down in the Big Muddy! There will be more happenings and catches to come that we cannot wait to share with you! Henrietta and the other snakes are recovering very well; we are going to let Henrietta go back where we found her this week and we hope to pay her a visit using the transmitter very soon!
**After this blog was written a Yellow-bellied Racer was caught!