If you are a little squeamish with the natural order of things, such as something eating something else, you might want to skip this one.
I switched up a field day from Friday to today given the rain predictions for week's end and a glorious day today. I drove north on Route 16 to Effingham; Mt. Chorcorua's rugged top was crystal clear while fog hung in the valleys. Red maples have turned red along the Ossipee River. I stepped out of the car to a surprisingly warm sun. Mosquitoes were out but not in force and not too pesky.
I set off into the woods gathering information about habitats and property boundaries. Part of preparing a wildlife habitat stewardship plan for a landowner. Seeing and hearing signs of wildlife is actually a bonus for my work. I take note of what creatures I encounter to reinforce my maps and notes about the habitats. Today I walked a woodland trail that the landowner calls "Moose Highway." It is rightly named as I saw fresh moose tracks in the soft mud along a stretch of this trail. There were smaller deer tracks too. And a spectacularly clear set of black bear tracks in the mud. All of these big mammals must have passed through just hours before me. After these sightings I made a little more noise as I walked, just in case they were still nearby. No need to startle a big animal.
When I walked back on this trail to a main woods road I stopped to listen to a soft, but piercing cry. It was nearby, and low, close to or on the ground. I waited and heard the sound again, but saw nothing. I peered under a small tree and heard a slight rustle and then I saw it. Click to enlarge the photo below and you will see what I saw.
A wood frog was half inside the mouth of a garter snake. Neither was moving much. It is a slow (painful for the frog I assume) process as the snake inches the frog backwards into its mouth. The wood frog (note its black mask below the eye and light brown body) emits a piercing cry supposedly to startle a predator into releasing it. Not sure how often that strategy works. This snake wasn't about to release this frog.
I didn't stay long to watch this predator-prey interaction unfold. The snake must eat and so goes life in the wild. And I had more habitats to map.