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Naturalist Blog – October 23, 2014

Fall Colors on Buck Hill Trail

Fall Colors on Buck Hill Trail
Photo: Natural Bridge Park

A shout –out to Alex, Krista and Leah: hope ya’ll are safe on the cycles, as you pedal south with the autumn changes.

This week’s animal of the week: Little Ringneck Snake ( Diadophis punctatus edwarsi ) seen quietly crossing the Cedar Creek Trail.  The northern subspecies possesses a complete neck ring and has an unpatterned underside.  There’s no mistaking the little “ring around the collar.”  It’s non-venomous and common to our mountainous region.  Ringnecks prey on smaller leaf litter critters: earthworms, insects ,small salamanders and it’s thought that ringnecks play a role in the aeration of this very important topsoil layer.

Park visitors will also note the marvelous display of fall colors on the Natural Bridge property.  In addition to the well traversed bridge/ Cedar Creek trail, we now have a few other woodland trails open for hiking.  Look for the colors to linger into November, unless storms strip the trees of late foliage.  Some trees hold their leaves the longest – – particularly hickories and beeches so keep comin’ to walk in November.   Plenty of color remaining and lots to see and to do!

Speaking of things to see and do, October and November are great months for new activities. The new Buck Hill Trail, constructed by the Pathfinders for Greenways (Roanoke, VA)  is officially open at Natural Bridge Park, and will be part of the November 15th Race to the Rock Bridge. Come check out the course before race day, and sign up at runsignup.com!

-Gretch Boeren, Park Naturalist