Common Garter Snake - Thamnophis Sirtalis

This Vancouver Island garter snake is quite common in Canada and is one of the northern most reptile species. Up to 1.3 metres length, they are one of 3 Common Garter Snake species found in British Columbia. The other 2 being the Pudget Sound Garter Snake and Valley Garter Snake. Their colourations somewhat vary with oranges, reds, yellows, greenish grey mixed with black and grey. If threatened, to enable an escape, they will deposit musk odours/digestive contents or quickly and aggressively bite.

These reptiles are active in the months of spring, summer and fall. To avoid freezing, they hibernate in winter months with other snakes in dens underground. Emerging in spring they often group forming mating balls, with a lone female in the middle and scent attracted males surrounding her. Later in July or August the young emerge live. Young snake numbers can vary but usually range 10 to 15.

During the warmer season after mating, they prefer areas such as marshes where they can swim, hide under vegetation and hunt slugs, insects, frogs, fish and other reptiles such as toads and newts. Activity periods are mostly diurnal. With the ability to use the sun as a compass, they migrate, with the assistance of scent, back to their hibernation dens in the fall.

Northern Pintail - Anas acuta

Northern Pintails are northern hemisphere ducks living in both Eurasia and North America. Populations occur south to Mexico. Year round along our coast but in other areas of North America they can be migratory. Habitats can be ponds, lakes, tidal marshes, estuaries, flooded farm fields, croplands, grasslands and meadows with seasonal preferences. Able to occupy both land and water habitats, they can peck or scoop their food. Foods such as aquatic plants & insects, worms, snails, crustaceans and grains like barley, wheat and rice bring a varied eco system nourishment. Often forming large flocks and in the non-breeding season mingling with other duck species, these birds are well adapted to our coastal environment. Being shallow water dabblers they are often found with other dabblers such as Mallard Ducks. They do not dive like Mergansers or Scaups. They dip and scoop in the shallows or peck for seeds in meadows and fields.

Habitat preferences in the breeding season are short vegetation areas such as croplands, meadows and seasonal wetlands. The female will dig out a shallow 2 to 4 inch depth ground depression, adding grasses and down. This provides a bowl like nest for her eggs. The clutch of anywhere from 3 to 12 eggs is incubated for just over 3 weeks. Once hatched, the chicks can soon leave the nest.

Pairing for mating can occur on winter grounds and males can mate with other females. The males compete for females. They stretch their necks, whistle and bob. Females showing interest, will follow bobbing their heads, preening and clucking. To gain mating interest, males sometimes will preen, exposing green speculums behind their wings.