Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cottonmouth!

Due to a lot of stuff going on recently, doing any hiking has been out of the question. But during a family reunion this week at Virginia Beach, I did get in a couple of short hikes of a couple of miles or so with my brothers and two of my nieces. The hikes were at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

On the second hike, we saw a cottonmouth (water moccasin) in a wet area a few feet from the trail. While not agressive at all, he clearly told us to stay away by displaying his trademark white "cotton" mouth.


It was an exciting sight. I have only seen this species of viper once (and that was from a distance while on a boat, so I can't be 100 percent sure). But there was no doubting this sighting of such a magnificant animal.

As you can see, I do not consider snakes to be loathsome creatures, not even poisonous ones like this one. I respect them of course, and will do all I can to avoid being bitten, but they are part of the natural world and in my view, should be left alone to lead their lives. All too often, people encountering snakes will kill them on sight. A couple of years ago, I found a totally harmless black rat snake that had been killed on a trail in this same refuge, and it was a sad sight.

On the way out, we saw a pretty red fox, the first of this species I have seen in this refuge:


We saw some wading birds and waterfowl on the hikes, as well as two beautiful deer fairly close to us on the first hike. We also found two unidentified tree frogs, which are not uncommon but are very difficult to spot. But the most interesting find was the moccasin.

The area where we saw the snake has a number of cypress trees (I am guessing bald cypress). They have a really interesting cone that is quite different from other conifers that I have seen. They almost look like some type of gall, but are clearly cones.

1 comment:

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