International Rock Flipping Day was yesterday, and since I knew I wouldn’t get back from the woods until late in the day, I saved my post for today.
You can see above what I found when I flipped the first rock of the day at Roundrock. Quite a juicy surprise! Actually, this copperhead (it is a copperhead, isn’t it?) looks more fearsome than he did in actual life. Its body wasn’t much thicker than a pencil, and the snake didn’t move at all while I photographed it several times. (I did hold the camera within striking distance, but the morning was still cool and I think the snake was sluggish. I was not wearing gloves, and in retrospect, I was taking some risks.) I then carefully replaced the rock over it and continued on my way.
If my rock flipping adventures started out with a bang, they proceeded to a whimper and continued to whimper throughout the day. I flipped a dozen rocks in all sorts of environments in my forest. I tried the wetter, north-facing slope in the trees. I tried various rocks in the currently dry areas of the lakebed. I tried the more xeric south-facing slope in the trees. And I tried a bit of broken ledge near the lake. I even tried flipping some rocks that turned out to be too heavy for me to lift. Not a single rock I flipped after the first one yielded anything but dry dirt.
There is a Flickr photo pool that is accumulating pix people have taken of their flipping adventures, so you might want to surf over there and have a look as well.
This is only the second copperhead I’ve ever encountered at Roundrock. In both cases, I went into their territory; they didn’t come after me. The first time was when I was taking apart a pile of stacked firewood. The snake was at the bottom of it. Fortunately, it was a winter day, so it was sluggish. When I came by later, the snake had moved on. The one above has been only the second time I’ve come across a copperhead.
So what did you find when you looked under a rock?
- Labor Day
- Peak of fall shorebird migration continues through mid-month.