Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen
We went swimming this weekend at Sugar Hollow in western Albemarle County, Va. The wildlife around and in the swimming hole was incredibly dense and diverse. The copperhead in the image above was one of the critters we got to observe. You can see the vertical pupil in its eye and the heat sensing pit behind the nostrils...both of which distinguish this poisonous snake from the many non-poisonous look-alikes (for some great comparisons of copperheads and other snakes, check out this link: http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/venomous-look-a-likes/copperhead-look-a-likes/copperhead.asp ) At the swimming hole, this snake stole the show. The more than 20 people that were there were buzzing with excitement over this snake. If you go to sugar hollow, keep your eyes peeled as you navigate the boulders along the creek. You just might get to see a copperhead...and you don't want to step on one.
Not too far away was a northern water snake hunting along the stream's edge. Not too far from that were puddling butterflies; spicebush swallowtails, red spotted purples, and eastern tiger swallowtails. Brightly colored sleepy orange butterflies, eastern commas, eastern tailed blues, and silver spotted skippers were abundant as well.
My girls spent a good amount of time catching fish and butterflies. Norah captured dozens of at least two different species of fish and enjoyed observing them in a holding tank. Eva showed off her net-free technique of catching butterflies. She's been practicing a very patient and skilled approach for about 2 years now...and she's got it down. She even picked up an eastern comma butterfly...notoriously skittish.
It was an awesome day.