Snakes alive

What glorious weather we’re having, sunny skies and temps in the high 70s. Spring is busting out all over.

I had a work day this week, so I thought I’d share some photos of this month’s Orange County Conservation Corps new hires.

For our educational day in the field, we did a wildlife survey at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. I give each Corps member a checklist. They also have photo sheets of the various kinds of wildlife from invertebrates to mammals that we’re likely to see. We found round stingrays on this survey, the first of the spring. Seal Beach and the Bolsa Chica have the largest concentration of round stingrays that is known.

But we saw no sharks. Although gray smoothhound and leopard sharks are present in abundance in the summer, they’re usually not visible from shore.

What do you think they're photographing with their cell phones? Wildflowers? Not a chance.

March is when the rattlesnakes come out of hibernation. We survey the rock pile where they den every time we go, but only see the snakes in March. Can you see the head? Lower right corner.

This snake is large, but not full. Looks like it hasn't eaten all winter. As soon as it warms up, it will go looking for a baby ground squirrel for lunch.

The Western Pacific rattlesnake was a rare find. After our field trip, we go to the Bolsa Chica Conservancy Interpretive Center to look at the marine aquarium and touch tank, as well as live non-poisonous snakes such as gopher and king snakes. Fun day.

Yep, this is what I do for a living, such as it is. I’m only working about one day every other month, so I’m pretty much retired these days except for my newspaper column.

(To read more of Lou Murray’s environmental writing, see her weekly column, Natural Perspectives, in the Huntington Beach Independent at /blogs_and_columns)

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a retired medical researcher, retired professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I wrote a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent for many years. I also supervised environmental restoration projects and taught at the Orange County Conservation Corps before retiring in the summer of 2016. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks. I am also dedicated to combatting global climate change.
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8 Responses to Snakes alive

  1. Barbara says:

    Hi Lou, what fascinating work you do. Rattlesnakes! Stingrays! Sharks! Oh my. Seriously, how wonderful that you’re doing this. Barbara


    • My job is a LOT of fun. I can’t beleive I get paid to do something that I enjoy so much. I love exciting these inner city kids about nature, and for boys in their late teens, sharks, stingrays and rattlesnakes do it.


  2. Ali says:

    I bet stingrays, sharks and rattlesnakes significantly ups the cool factor of conservation work. In Maine I don’t get a lot of oohs and aahs when I point out toads, frogs and garter snakes!
    🙂 Ali


  3. Thomas says:

    The hairs on the back of my neck just stood up….I am a big baby when it comes to snakes. Luckily, we don’t see many around our parts.


  4. Daphne says:

    That seems like a really nice job.


  5. Turling says:

    In another three months, we should start getting our rattlesnakes in the backyard. The first thing I do when I go out in the morning is walk around with a broom handle and shake every plant in the back while listening for the rattle. I have also entrenched into my son, “don’t put your hands where you can’t see them.”


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