I brake for pythons

Wednesday, Jan 4    Once again, I am off bicycling around Gamba.  This time, to the other side of Yenzi lake.  The wild mangoes have dropped their fruits, and the villagers have been busy collecting them for the kernel inside the pit, which is dried in the sun and ground to make a flour paste used in cooking.  The fruit around the pit is tough and not very sweet, and the piles of split fruits attest to the work involved, and lay fermenting in the sun.

a remnant of past forest cover, this tree, now isolated, stands at close to 40 meters tall.

The road ends at a laterite quarry surrounded by plantations, and a footpath continues around the lake.  Few large trees remain around the quarry, but the distant hills still appear intact.  New growth is sprouting in areas of the quarry abandoned by heavy equipment.  The surface scraped to the predominant laterite pebble give the land a surreal desert appearance.

At the edge of the quarry, I hear something new.  A rasping metallic, squeaky conversation between two birds that ends with what sounds like a muffled bell hitting the ground.  Searching the trees, I find a glossy starling behind the vocalizations, with blue-black body, purple head and breast, and striking yellow eyes.

I decide to return along the roadway, as the footpath is muddy and difficult bicycling.  Passing a small wetland, I brake in time to avoid running into a python.  The glistening young snake is approximately 1.25 meters in length.  It freezes until I approach too close, then turns and retreats to the heavy grasses of the roadside.  Moving like liquid glass, it is a beautiful snake.

a young python, 1.25 meters in length, can grow to be six meters

2 responses to “I brake for pythons”

  1. Olivier Pauwels Avatar
    Olivier Pauwels

    Dear David; The ”young python” is actually an adult Ornate Water Snake (Grayia ornata), a freshwater, harmless colubrid. It can be identified among others by its typical dorsal color pattern made of inverted Y marks on a lighter background in adults. You can compare it with the pattern of a python from Gabon in a paper published two days ago (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317953158_Miscellanea_Herpetologica_Gabonica_IX). Best regards to Lisa! Olivier

    1. Thanks for clarification Olivier. My early ID was obviously in error. Cheers, DK

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