Yesterday afternoon I had a close encounter of the rattlesnake kind, in our yard. This is a routine summer occurrence out here, but this was the first of this calendar year.
I had all four dogs on leashes, and was walking past our pines, when I heard a fuss, a hiss, and lots of bird squawking. Just to my right, about six feet away, a pair of tiny canyon wrens was doing battle with a fairly large western diamondback rattlesnake. The wrens almost certainly have a nest in the vicinity, and were being good bird parents, getting that snake out of the area. The snake was quite unhappy at the unwanted attention it was getting, and was striking repeatedly at the wrens – but they were too quick for him to ever actually hit them.
I hustled the dogs back into the house, and got our snake stick (a roughly six foot long stick with a pair of tongs operated by a handle – lets me safely pick up snakes). Debbie got an empty five gallon plastic tub. When I grabbed that snake and picked it up, we got a good look at its size – about four feet long and roughly 3.5" in diameter in the middle. A big 'un!
Into the tub he went, and I bungeed down the top. I hauled him off to a remote area and released him, far from any homes or domestic animals. Usually when I release rattlesnakes, they sort of slowly slink away. This guy was still really upset, and he came straight for me, striking at the toe of my (heavy work) boot. No damage done, but certainly got my heart rate up!