Saturday, November 19

Brunch with the BBS

Last week, Alex and Tere were over at the house for brunch (Adri was out of town for work) and while we were at the dining table, I noticed that our little backyard butcher had brought down something long and squirmy.

Thinking it was either a huge earthworm or a tiny snake, I pointed her out to Alex and Tere. We could clearly see her struggling with her prey through the glass windows.

I quickly ran to my room to get my optics to confirm: sure enough it was a small snake, Calamaria gervaisii (Gervais' worm snake,  This prey was not new to the bbs (backyard brown shrike) menu, as I had seen it already before, but it was only recently, that I confirmed its identity, care of herping enthusiast friend Emerson.

BBS expertly impaled the snake on a large thorn of a potted kafir lime, and with a sharp poke of her beak, broke through the skin and slowly pulled out a long, white and bloody gut. (Glad our brunch wasn't spaghetti!)

We slowly moved out to the terrace to get a better look.  BBS momentarily stopped her exertions to take a wary look at us, and then, deciding that her food was of higher concern, continued to with her eating.

The three of us watched, mesmerized by the shrike's struggle with the longish creature. On every other pull, we would see its eyes cloud over as its translucent third eyelid covered its eyes.

After a few minutes, she flew off, leaving her fresh meal behind and giving us a chance for a closer inspection.

Yumyum. Warm and bloody.

Of course as soon as we stepped back, she returned to see if we had harmed her precious chow.  Taking another suspicious look at us (and obviously deciding we were up to no good)  she picked up her snake and flew it to the climbing rose at the back of the garden.

This was her favorite larder. Though its thorns were small, they were no less sharp. More importantly, they served their purpose well. Adri and I had documented a tiny gecko and a large furry yellow moth securely caught on the thorns during that same week.

We watched again, as she expertly laid out the snake by its long side, its skin shredded as it caught on the rose thorns.  Pretty soon it had clearly skinned the little snake, and could now easily tear it up into bite-sized pieces.

Wonderful backyard natural history in action.

We left it to enjoy its meal and went back to ours. Bon appetit!

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