Hognose Snakes

I met my first hognose snake of the year with the tip of my brush cutter.  Darn it!  I watched helplessly as it writhed in pain, snarling angrily at me.  I’m on the lookout for them now!  When you encounter one on the trail, The Springs feel more wild.

Carl Koch captured these wild hogs at The Springs last year.

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Sue Hrobar caught this hognose displaying its classic defensive posture: “When threatened, hognose snakes will flatten their necks and raise their heads off the ground, like a cobra, and hiss.” (from Wikipedia)

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I’m getting more intimately familiar with every square foot at The Springs as I continue attacking garlic mustard with my brush cutter.  Guiding a brush cutter focuses your attention to detail much more so than waving a poison spray wand.  In many cases I found the garlic mustard amidst many diverse flowers and grasses.  Using the brush cutter definitely causes less collateral damage than spraying a non-selective herbicide like glyphoste.  Rich Csavoy suggested this approach and it will take a few years to judge its effectiveness.

Over 5 days I have worked at all of the locations where I sprayed garlic mustard in previous years and I have to note that, in some cases, particularly on the cut-off trail, the poison significantly reduced the amount of garlic mustard.  Last year the area near where the cut-off trail merges with the main trail at the marl pit factory was carpeted with garlic mustard and this year there was barely a plant or two, and the forest floor is alive with sedges and flowers.  I’ll speculate here that this area did not have as much garlic mustard seed in the soil as others areas where the mustard came back strong after spraying.

Sunday I worked on the south end of the loop trail in and around the bowl with the vernal pond.

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It was a peaceful day and I did a little yoga on the marl pit bridge to unwind at the end.  Here is the view from the old barn site.

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I returned yesterday to work in the area around the old hotel site, then near signpost #13, and finally, along the cut-off trail.  It was a blessed warm, sunny, bug-free day with fragrant breezes blowing in from the northeast.

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Garlic mustard on the hillside at the old hotel site.

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As I was finishing up at the hotel, I heard the sound of heavy machinery working on Hwy 67; they were taking down the black locust trees I girdled back in March. I was headed that way to signpost #13 with my wheel barrow and stopped to check it out.

I don’t know what this machine is called, but I think Hognose is a fitting description.

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The operator of this hydraulic hercules was a virtuoso, and I could have watched him for hours.

I’ve never seen forestry done like this before.  Below, Steve Tabat cuts the base of a tree and his partner pushes it over.  Check out the snout on this hog and the way it chews off logs and spits them out at the end of the video.

I returned to admire their work after cutting garlic mustard all afternoon.

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Again, the person operating this log loader was an adept and it was a pleasure to watch him drive that huge machine through tight spots and skillfully manipulate the log picker.

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The corner of Hwy ZZ and Hwy 67.

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I’m glad to see the black locust go and I have a lot of respect for the hard-working foresters, who were paid for their efforts in wood; the coin of the realm.

From there I headed over to the boat landing at Ottawa Lake to check out the brush and tree removal the DNR did there this past winter.

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Above you can see the shadow of the mighty oak below.

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These nice improvements compliment the buckthorn clearing we have been doing on the east shore of the lake, which you can see in the views from the fishing pier and boat launch dock.

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My new favorite place to hang out, meditate, and do yoga after working is the observation deck at the handicap accessible cabin.

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The Emerald Spring is really looking the part these days.  This past winter was a hard one and I often saw ducks feeding and staying warm in the river.  I wonder if the algae bloom might be fueled by duck poop?

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Sunset at the marl pit bridge.

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See you at The Springs!

3 thoughts on “Hognose Snakes

  1. This is fascinating Paul! I had no idea of the scope of this project, but it must be very satisfying to see some hard-earned progress. What a beautiful area!

  2. Pingback: Weeds “R” Us | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  3. Pingback: The Woot Of All Weevil | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

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