protonotaria (in the Roman Catholic Church, a papal notary who wears a yellow hood) citrea (lemon color)
Tuesday, May 3, 1983 — 8:35 am
Mayflower, Arkansas — Bell Slough Wildlife Area
After I saw the Yellow-breasted Chats, I continued through the brushy area, still watching carefully for snakes. The track I was walking on ended at a swamp that was edged by a canal and causeway. I headed along this, through three-inch grass. I hadn’t gone too far when I spotted a bird (I don’t recall what kind). I stopped to look for it, and moved a step or two for a better view. When I looked down, I noticed a Cottonmouth laying in the grass not more than a foot in front of me. I froze, petrified. My heart dropped into my socks. After what seemed like an hour, but was really no more than a few seconds, I noticed that the snake’s head was missing, blown off with a shotgun. It was still scary looking, and I gave it a wide margin as I inched past. I kept thinking that if I could get that close to a dead one being so careful, the same thing could happen with a live one. I surprised myself by continuing. I didn’t know I was that brave.
About 100 yards past the snake, the causeway disappeared under the water of the swamp. I could see where it started again, but I wasn’t brave enough to wade. I stood there for a few minutes looking around (and down). It paid off. A Prothonotary Warbler flew to a small bush in the swamp. It hopped around a bit, then flew off across the swamp into the woods and disappeared.