Hemlock Excursion 4/12/2011


Went on an in outing today to Hemlock Overlook looking fro some critters. Weather was overcast with few brief sprinkles. Bull Run was somewhat swollen with floodwater from previous rains and the trails were moderately muddy.  Today I had great success locating  4 species of snakes and two species of salamanders and one pickerel frog.  Snakes encountered today in the wooded section of the trail were worm and northern brown snakes. Unofrtunately the northern brown snake had been killed maybe squashed in path by hikers (unknowingly of course).  Near the river along the rocky banks were perfect habitat for the water snakes species. Under flattened, dinner plate like rocks I found a northern water snake and a queen snake. Over the years I have seen fewer queen snakes. Northern water snakes seem to be doing quite well however.


Only two species of salamanders were caught and released. Upland species typically found were led and red back or plethodonts. These are terrestial slalamaders that complete their life cylce inside of an egg and hatch as minature adults.  Plethodonts also have no lungs and breather entirely through their skin.  They also exhibit variation in their externmal appearance having all gray, or a dorsal red, yellow or silver stripe.  Common varieties encountered today were of the red then gray colored. 

   woodfrog program (9)

(At Hemlock we had frequent encounters with plethodonts like the pair above)

I only found one species of streamside salamnder today. Eurycea occur along the stream banks and in seapages that bridge the forest to the river. Often encounter two lined, three lined and long tails in this region. 


Over all a great day.


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