As It Is

Great Egret (Ardea alba) with Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Photo Edwin Wu

Photographer Edwin Wu, who has shared extraordinary images here, contributes these photographs showing scenes that aren’t pretty to our eyes, but reflect nature as it is. Above, in an encounter not previously recorded in the park, a Great Egret holds in the longnose pliers of its beak a sizeable Western Fence Lizard. The bird is a deadly hunter in the water and on land, and the warm days we’ve experienced recently have brought the reptiles out of their burrows and into the sun, hunting the insects that also have come out of their wraps. It’s the food chain in action.

The images below may be disturbing to some viewers. Edwin explains that he saw this injured Sanderling, a kind of sandpiper, trying to make itself inconspicuous in the mud at low tide. Apparently it had one or both wings broken and could not fly. But a sharp-eyed American Crow spotted it, carried it to the dirt path, turned it on its back, and with repeated blows of its beak, killed it.

Injured Sanderling (Calidris alba) Photo Edwin Wu
American Crow (Coarvus brachyrhynchos) with Sanderling (Calidris alba) Photo Edwin Wu

Edwin also spotted and photographed a full-grown Gopher Snake, more than 4 feet long. Note that the camera is down low, nearly at eye level with the reptile. That’s the smart way to photograph them. They’re completely harmless, and also don’t see very well, so photographers can get on their belly and take close-ups. (I’ve done it!). This is one of the best, if not the best, portraits of this snake I’ve had the privilege to publish here.

Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer) Photo Edwin Wu

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