Great Egret vs. Snake

by John Briggs on July 22, 2006

in Blog

Going birdwatching on a day so foggy that you can barely see 50 feet, usually is not very productive, but this morning had a surprise in store for us not more than 20 feet away!

Great Egret eat a snake

While enjoying our Saturday morning coffee and birdwatching ritual at the Rachael Carson National Wildlife Refuge near Biddeford Pool, Maine, my wife and I were about to call it quits because visibility was terrible at best.

Fog had set in overnight, and it was being stubborn and not burning off. Visibility was less than fifty feet at best. Binoculars were useless in the thick pea soup.

Just as I was beginning to back out of a spot I had parked in, my wife saw a Great Egret step over a small rise in the marsh not more than 20 feet in front of us.

The Egret was stabbing its long bill into something, not in the water, but in the grass.

Suddenly, the Egret rose with a snake in its mouth! I could not identify the type of snake because of fog, but I can assure you it was at least 3 feet long! Great Egret eats a snake

These pictures are proof… NEVER leave home without your camera! Although these images are fuzzy at best because of fog, I still was able to capture images that you just don’t see too often in life.

The battle between Egret and snake lasted approx 5 minutes. At times, the snake tried to escape by wrapping itself around the head and bill of the egret. The snake would then fall to the ground, but the Egret was quicker!

I don’t want to spare any details, so if you are squeamish, skip this paragraph! As the Egret tried to swallow the snake, the snake would crawl back out, fall to the ground, only to be picked up again and again.

But as all good things must end, the Egret finally swallowed the snake whole! You could see the bulge in the Egrets throat as it struggle to swallow 3 feet of snake!

Great Egret eats a snake

In this picture, you can see the bulge in its neck! This was after the Great Egret took a drink of water to wash it down.

Nature at work! We love seeing things as they are meant to be. Who knows, maybe the next time the snake will win.

Those who know me can relate to this, I still thought there was more I should have done… like why didn’t I have the camcorder in the car!

I can guarantee you this, video will be forthcoming of things like this in the future. Just like the popular commercial says, “Don’t leave home without it!”

Be safe and happy birding folks!

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