Unbelievably fortuitous discovery this past Sunday in Baling: a MacClelland's Coral Snake (Sinomicrurus macclellandi swinhoei
). This was a "lifer" for me: the first time I'd ever come across this tiny, reclusive elapid in the wild. I likely never would have even seen the little guy had I not first run into 賴志明, a vastly experienced Taiwanese herper, who happened to be on the same hill at the same time with a large group of his acolytes. I came across 志明's group as they were all huddled around a handsome, albeit fairly ordinary habu. While we were chatting, there was a commotion up the street from several members of his group, and as we approached, it became clear what all the fuss was about: A Formosan Wolf snake (Lycodon ruhstrati ruhstrati
) had been spotted in a shallow ditch, and less than a meter away, a resplendent Coral Snake. Ordinarily the Wolf Snake would have elicited at least a minor cheer of triumph, but compared to the Coral, it might as well have been a worm. I never even bothered to look at it twice, much less film it, so transfixed was I by the utter majesty of the coral. These nocturnal snakes spend their lives almost entirely out of view, far under the leaf litter foraging for tiny snakes and lizards to eat. It's hard to overstate the sense of reverent awe you feel when you're finally granted a glimpse of such a marvelous creature.