Hemlock Overlook Bull Run 4/20-4/21, 2011

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IMG_0006Went Herping with Mike both days at Hemlock Overlook.  Had a routine start finding numerous red back salamanders in three color forms of red and yellow striped and gray. Most of these were found at higher elevations such as hill tops  under logs or rocks along the the slopes near the river. As Mike and I descended to the river we switched our focus to the rocky shorelines next the blue trail.  I spent much of the rime next to the water while Mike worked the slopes. Mike found more of the red backed sals.

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He later joined me along the river flipping rocks hoping to find copperhead. We found two aqautic snakes, no copperhead. Two of the snakes were juvenile aquatic snakes.  One was a queen the other a northern water snake. Both under rocks. Other animals we found in this region were pickerel frogs. Leaving the stream bank we continued northward up the blue trail checking under rocks and logs alongthe way. Mike discovered what we both agreed to be a member of the”mole” salamanders which we later determined might have been a marbled salamander- which would have made an awesome photo.  Our total finds today were 2 skinks, 2 ringneck snakes, oneworm snake, one northern water snake, one queen snake one american toad four pickerel frogs. We stopped counting the number of redback and the variants after about twenty were caught. All animals were (and are always) released to the original location after we photograph them.

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Click: HERE to view our encounter with this animal

Click Copperhead ambushes frog  to watch what happens next!!

Day two was quite a a treat. We headed fown yatesford trail turned left where it intersected with the river on the blue trail and mafe our wat back to somerocky outcroppings along the river bank. We have always made it our goal to find a copperhead so that seemed like the best place to find them and it is where I have found them in the past. Along the way we, as before, checked the wooded slopes and next to shoreline flipping rocks and logs finding more redbacks andtheir variants. Mike did manage to find one salamander that has eluded me for years – a slimy salamander. Ihadnt seen one in nearly 20-25 years. That was cool. We coninued down the trail back the other direction the way we came in but then made our way past the intersection of the yatesford trail and river heading toward the old dam ruins. I stopped by a rocky section of shoreline where a seapage from the highlands drains into the river. Walking along I look up and almost stepped on a rather large copperhead.  I yelled for Mike to come over. He had never seen one in the wild before so it turned outto be quite a treat for us.  We must have taken hundreds of photogtaphs wfhile the snake lay there motionless. What we didnt realize is that the snake was lying in ambush for a meal. Much to our surprise the animal was extremely docile or focoused on its prey that it ignored us all together. Even when we poked at it gently it didnt move. But suddenly it began to flick its tongue and jertk its head towards a clump of exposed roots along the shore.It then  proceeded to crawl in that direction and partially disappear under the roots. A few seconds later out jumps this green frog onto my feet and then into the water -apparently to escape from being eaten by that snake-surprised the shit out of me.

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