Garter Snake, Mississippi River, Mud Lake Park, Iowa --------

I have a hard time keeping up with my visual story telling about things that happen in nature right now around here. It is an eventful time. So, let me talk about the Mississippi River again. The river was above flood stage during the last few days but reached its high today. Some of my usual shooting locations and places where we give also our dog Cooper his exercise were under water. Yesterday I was down at Mud Lake Park and the picture below tells you how this recreation area looked like.

Mississippi River, Mud Lake Park, Iowa

Ok, so what has that to do with the photo of a beautiful Garter Snake? During the last few years the number of snakes has dramatically decreased in this area. Years ago I could make a picture of a snake every day in our backyard and found them at many other places. This is not the case anymore. I have a hard time to find any snake at all and last year I saw only a single Garter Snake, which were usually abundant. I talked to many people, like rangers from the DNR or biologists. Everybody observes the same trend but nobody has really an answer what causes the decline. I still hope it is a temporary thing but my fear grows that pesticides or other aggressive treatments of mother nature play a role. 

The high water level of the river and subsequent flooding have obviously effected the habitat of some critters and this Garter Snake was out in the open. A dangerous place since many predators, like herons, egrets, or owls may not hesitate to have them for dinner…