Edited and posted by: Vicky Thomas
Next we were treated to it's second defense plan and this one did not hesitate to show us first why it is also nicknamed the "spreading adder."
Once again, this had no effect and it quickly realized that this crowd wasn't buying the whole "Hey, look at this triangle shaped head....I'm really a deadly snake ...really," so it turned to its final trick....the dramatic "death" sequence, complete with mouth agape and tongue hanging out.
"They'll leave me alone now...I'm dead...no one wants a dead snake! They should be running away any minute now...I'll just lift up here and take a quick peak."
"Man, this is a tough crowd, they are just not falling for it...Uh oh, here comes the hand....that's ok, I'll really prove to ‘em that I'm dead now..."
(Engage limp body sequence.)
"Ok, this ain't working either. Just play it cool...keep that mouth open..maybe they'll think I'm a cottonmouth now !"
We really didn't harass the little guy too long, and eventually we all moved on up the trail. (I imagined the hognose meeting another snake later that day and saying..."you won't believe what happened to me. I really got to get a new act.")
Another surprise of the hike was the incredible display of a wide variety of mushrooms.
I won't even attempt to identify all the varieties represented but there was a wonderful article in the Martinsville Bulletin on the mushrooms at Gravely by Holly Kozelsky with great photos by Mike Wray and some mushroom ID's by Richard Hoffman of the VMNH.
Our group couldn't get enough of the fabulous fungi. We stopped for lots of ‘shroom photo op's.
Further up the trail we encountered one of the many resident box turtles (Terrapene carolina) that call Gravely home.
While not as exciting as the "death display" of the hognose snake, the turtles own defense of "I'll just be in my shell" technique was just as effective.
We hiked through the sun-dappled forest over the Jones Cliff Trail and Burgess Loop then back to the cemetery where Jenn shared the history of the Burgess Plantation.