Field Notes: What’s in the Woods Today? April 22, 2019

April 22, 2019 12:23 pm

by Area Forester Lisa Deaton

Two Snake Day!

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Last week the sun was shining, and the fresh spring foliage and flowers were lovely.  The road in the photo above was a Gloucester County state road until Beaverdam Reservoir was built in 1989,  submerging a section of this road.

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Pawpaw blooms (Asimina triloba)

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Eastern redbud blooms can resemble tiny hummingbirds. (Cercis canadensis)

Then I almost stepped on a copperhead snake heading in my direction.  We both jumped backwards.  This is the first copperhead I have seen on the Middle Peninsula after four years of working here.   They are one of Virginia’s few species of venomous snakes.

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As you can imagine, I was more alert after this snake encounter.  Yet, I was still surprised to come across one more snake as I was leaving the woods (below and cover photo).  I believe this one was a northern black racer, judging by the descriptions at the Virginia Herpetological Society website.  The snake retreated to this tree hollow and tapped its tail back and forth rapidly under some leaves to create a rattling sound.

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It is not super common to see snakes while walking in the woods, but they seem to be less cautious and easier to find during the first few weeks of warm, 80-degree weather.

 


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