Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)
The snake had just emerged from hibernation and was still half asleep when we met face to face on a woodland path in the Lanark highlands last weekend - he or she was in a foul mood and downright bellicose. The day was bleak and cold and windy, no sunlight to speak of and temperatures hovering only a few degrees above freezing. There was little or nothing to eat, and being a small, sleepy and very hungry serpent out and about on such a day left much to be desired.
When we meet snakes on our rambles, they usually scurry away into nearby leaves and grasses, but this one stood its ground. It coiled and recoiled itself sinuously, hissed at me, then reared back and struck several times at my heavy hiking boot, flicking its tongue rapidly in and out and displaying the bright red interior of of its mouth.
Never having witnessed such antics except from a distance, I would have liked to stay, but my little friend was clearly very upset, so I left the scene after a few clicks. I am always interested in snakes, and this one was handsome indeed.