The overflow drum in the dam seems to be a perilous place. I noted a few weeks ago that when we had last visited (in June!), there was a opossum down in the drum. Whether it was sleeping the day away or slowly perishing, we couldn’t tell. It barely looked up at us as we peered in. We once found a dead raccoon in the drum some years before. The problem seems to be that the critters can get it and then can’t get out. They venture up the big drain pipe, jump down into the drum, and then either can’t jump back up to the pipe or don’t know enuf to do so.
You can pretty much guess from the photo above what became of the opossum. You’re looking down through the grating, about three feet into the drum. (It’s slowly getting shallower as it accumulates debris that washes in and doesn’t wash out. (Before that happened, you could see the boot print the dam builder had left in the concrete floor of the drum. I like those little touches.)
The bones are picked clean, as you can see, but there is no apparent gnawing on them. My guess is the beetles and other scavenger insects got to work on the opossum, which is the natural order of these things. Should the rain gods ever smile upon me again and fill the lake, and there is enuf water to pour into this overflow drum, much of this accumulation will be washed away, to end up in the pecan plantation.
Too bad about the opossum, but that’s settled now. What’s not settled, and what will give me anxiety until I can return to Roundrock, is the fate of the newest resident of the drum:
This copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) had two ways to enter the drum: up through the drain pipe as the opossum had come or through the grate on the top. In either case, I fear that it will face the same sad end. It clearly cannot reach the grate again, but I don’t think it can reach as high as the drain pipe either. I suspect on my next visit that I will see the sad end of this fine looking creature too. It is a big copperhead, an inch in diameter and at least two feet long. I think that’s big for a copperhead.
If I could get in the drum (by removing the grate, which would require removing the retaining wall atop half of it and then removing the vines that are growing through it, and then being able to re-seat it properly) I would add some sort of permanent ladder or climbing pole up to the drain pipe. Opossums, I learned, cannot jump. And certainly snakes cannot either. But this seems like a wretched way to die, and it’s at least in part my doing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the opportunity, but as the astute FC once said, I’m always fretting about something.