Looking for butterflies,as some of you know, suddenly I met a snake, after ID as a young King Cobra, about 2 mt size. Quickly erected in a defense position, very photogenic. A bit worried, I got a few shots:
Great shot, you've got me very jealous. Shooting a cobra with raised hood from a low angle is still a dream for me. I think it could be easier if I had an assistent willing to keep the cobra busy while I make the pictures. I've never managed to get a cobra raise it's head. Every time they take off. Maybe I should get closer to scare them a bit... Pull their tail, maybe...
Only once got a decent record picture, but without 'hood', just moving around.
Seems like it did give you quite quite a bit of time to both enjoy the sighting and get this great shot.
Last month I met an American researcher, Matt Goode, who has done some amazing research on King Cobra's in India, and with his help they're currently radio-tracking a few King's in Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, East of Khao Yai.
He told me some very interesting facts. Territory ranges of up to 40 - 50 km2!
And they seem to return to the same termite mounts or other hiding spots in their enormous territories. Quite amazing.
In India they radio-tracked a male, really following it, staying with the snake for the whole day, and seeing what it eats. That research project took place in the rain season, and in that season the King (which is as you know, a snake-eater) ate many pit vipers, not sure if that's a seasonal thing. It might be, as I personally see lots of pit vipers in the wet season.
The cobra is able to track scent trails of snakes. In one case during their research project the cobra got bitten after it attacked the viper. It dropped the viper and remained in a kind of trance for 30 minutes. The pit viper escaped into a tree, to a branch at about 6 meters high, but after a while the pit viper died from the cobra's venom and dropped on the forest floor not too far from the cobra. However, when the cobra 'woke up' it first followed the trace of the snake all the way up in the tree, then to find out that the trail had a dead end , moved back down and then found the prey and ate it.
I have to say I'm a bit surprised you don't see more snakes. Though, I suppose you don't really look for them. Time to brag about my own experiences again , a few days ago had an amazing day in Khao Yai and broke my personal day-record (in this country at least). Got to see 6 snakes in 1 day!
1 Oriental Vine Snake (orange morph), 3 Vogel's Pit Vipers, and 2 Green Cat Snakes.
The pit vipers are definitely the most commonly seen snakes in Khao Yai, I guess followed by the Vine Snakes, and maybe Bronzebacks. A cobra is rare to see, and so are the Kraits.
So far I've seen 28 different species of snakes in Khao Yai. And I'm sure there's more.
For photography the green pit vipers are often great at posing in characteristic 's'-pose. They are very calm during the day and you can get really close, but obviously you should take care of your own safety.
It's not rare to see them stick around to the same spot for many days in a row. In the beginning of the year I found one that stayed on it's rather high spot for over 2 months! I guess the dry season makes them inactive. In the wet season they move around more, and can be found on branches just inches above the ground, head pointing down waiting for frogs.
Wish you some more amazing snake encounters, especially when returning home with such photographic results!