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      Nature Report: Slithering Surprise

      With temperatures soaring beyond the century mark in Deep South Texas, a ranch country oasis quickly becomes a magnet for wildlife.

      This tranquil little pond in western Starr County attracts a variety of wildlife arriving to quench their thirst and wet their feathers, but just about all the visitors maintain vigilance, as the life giving water can also be a place of ambush for unwary creatures.

      As this white-tipped dove stoops to sip, it suddenly bursts into frightened flight.

      Slithering into the pond is a large indigo that glides silently across the placid water. The big black snake drinks deeply and probes the water for any hint of prey like a tasty frog.

      This non-venomous reptile is considered the largest snake native to the United States and can achieve a length of some nine feet.

      Indigos are as at home in the water as on land and are expert swimmers. After exploring the pond for several minutes, the glistening serpent crawls up the bank and slowly disappears into the underbrush as it continues its morning hunt.

      Soon another visitor arrives for a drink, and the cara cara has the pond all to itself. This colorful bird of prey is a very adept hunter and will not hesitate to take on a snake.

      This cara cara has captured a long slender Ruthven's whip snake and with its sharp beak has no trouble severing the serpent in half, which makes it much easier to carry off.

      Predator can quickly become prey at a South Texas waterhole, but this indigo is probably large enough to be safe from most would be attackers.