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This was a gigantic Black Rat Snake! It was crossing the road and I jumped out and took its picture. It didn’t take too kindly and started rattling its tail in dry leaves to make me think it was a rattler. You can’t fool me with that trick, buddy! Although I did keep my distance because about a month ago I was walking on a trail and saw a coiled up rat snake. It also rattled its tail to warn me off, but I learned down to take its picture and it lunged at me. I jumped back and let it go its way without taking its picture. They can be jerks…Pantherophis obsoletus

This is a little baby Northern Water Snake. This picture was taken in June 2013 and the lake shore was full of them. Since they are ovoviviparous they give live birth, so mama water snake must have just had her brood not too long before. I have no problem picking them up, but I was told after this picture was taken that they might bite repeatedly if they feel threatened. Nerodia sipedon

This is not an alien life form, this is a Bryozoan also called a “moss animal”. They are filter feeders and what you are seeing in this picture is actually a whole colony of them. They are related to coral and form this jelly like mass around structures in the water. They are pollution intolerant, so it is a good thing that they are found at Bear Creek Lake State Park! Pectinatella magnifica

This is Bloodroot. It is really a shame I missed seeing this bloom (May). It is in the same Family as poppies, Papaveraceae. When it blooms a single leaf and single flower both emerge from the ground. The flower will shed its petals after only a day or two. It has such an unusual leaf shape that it wasn’t that difficult to identify even though I didn’t have a flower to go by. Sanguinaria canadensis

This little boy insisted that I take his picture with his Channel Catfish he just caught. He was so proud he ran along the beach showing it to everyone and posing for pictures. He was so sad when his mom told him to throw it back because she didn’t want to gut fish for dinner!. I told him that I would put this picture on the internet so everyone could see his accomplishment. Ictalurus punctatus

Copperhead. This is a type of pit viper that lives in Central Virginia and is the only venomous snake we have in the area. They usually avoid humans and are pretty docile as a species. They are an ambush predator so they tend to lay very still and wait until the prey comes to them. Because of this they can get accidentally stepped on by humans resulting in a bite. Agkistrodon contortrix

This one had me so fooled! I was convinced that this was some sort of a caterpillar but it turns out that this is a Sawfly larvae. Sawflies are a type of wasp not a moth or butterfly. I solved this mystery by looking at the type of plant it is on. I was in a really swampy area and I thought that it was munching on an alder leaf. But when I looked at my pictures, I had more, this was just the clearest, I saw that it was actually on a Dogwood leaf. So there you have it, the Dogwood Sawfly Larvae! Macremphytus tarsatus

This is the office at Bear Creek Lake State Park. I actually took this picture in the early fall of last year. I remember this day was a little cold and just looking at this picture makes me chilly. On the night I took this picture, I had a campfire program and the smell of the smoke and the roasting marshmallows really made for an awesome autumn evening.

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This is my favorite trail at Bear Creek Lake State Park/ Cumberland State Forrest. This is the Willis River Trail and it winds 16 miles through the most beautiful sights there is to see. It is an awesome trek if you are a birder, botanist or just a hiking enthusiast. Its skill level is hard and it will take you about 8 hours to hike the whole thing (or so I’m told by campers, I haven’t done it all).