Friday, August 7, 2009

July 21, 2009- From my bio-ken journal

July 21, 2009 Entry #18

Today, Steve Spawls (One of the most renowned herpetologists on East Africa in the world, who moved into my house in watamu for a week with me!), Ferry, Dengris and I went out on a collecting expedition with the goal of finding a Dendroaspis angusticeps, a.k.a. Green Mamba. We left early in the morning and went to a shamba owned by a friend of Ferry’s, which turned out to be a massive nursery full of trees, shrubs, and thick bush- perfect mamba territory. Dengris was the first to spot anything, which turned out to be a female Dyspholidus typus (boomslang, a rear-fanged snake with one of the nastiest venoms around that causes a slow and painful death due to massive internal bleeding) with a Flap-necked chameleon hanging out of its mouth- very cool. We caught the snake which then dropped the chameleon, and bagged it up, then the search continued. I spotted the next snake which appeared to be a green mamba up a tree, but by the time we all got into position and up the tree to get it the snake had disappeared into the thick foliage of the canopy. Disappointed, but not discouraged, we continued our search. Ferry spotted the next snake high up a tree, which was another green mamba, and this snake couldn’t elude him! He got the snake down and bagged it, and our target species was successfully nabbed! The rain started to come down thick and heavy, and although we persisted throughout the storm we ended up soaked and empty handed for the next hour’s work. We were about to head off to another shamba when Ferry got a snake call at a village near Gede, so we all piled into Steve’s car and shot off to see what snake awaited our arrival. When we got there I went over to the villagers and the pointed to a pile of palm leaves saying that a python was underneath, and when I pulled back the leaves a large puff adder, not a python, was sitting there! Good thing they called for assistance instead of trying to deal with the snake as a python. I picked up the snake behind the head, and the whole village crowded around asking to take pictures with me and the snake and cheering! Photos were taken, I bagged the snake with Steve, and we went off again. No more finds for the morning but it was a seriously successful expedition by all accounts.

Photos of the puff adder at Gede: http://tinyurl.com/nhs342


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