Blend Modes

A western fence lizard sunbathes on a rock at Smith Rock State Park

Fence lizards come in a variety of shades from light to dark, but most of the lizards I saw at Smith Rock on this hike had this light coloring. I don’t know if it is genetically more common or if it leads to higher survival rates by enabling the lizards to better blend in with the lightly colored rocks in the park.

Red-spotted Breakfast

An American bittern eats a red-spotted garter snake at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Red-spotted snakes are almost too beautiful for words. They are not too beautiful for breakfast, apparently, at least not if you’re a hungry bittern. I came across this bittern after it had captured a red-spotted garter snake early one morning. It killed the snake by applying pressure with its beak, often to the snake’s head. The snake was already bleeding a little bit and not putting up much of a fight.

While it adjusted the snake’s position in its beak from time to time, it never let the head get too far from its beak so the snake couldn’t swing up and bite any soft tissue. It took a while for the snake to die, this shot is from right at the end of the snake’s life, it went limp after this final crushing of its head. The bittern made sure the snake was dead before swallowing it by thrashing it around.

Probably a good idea when your breakfast can bite you back.