During the same trip to Lost Cove where Dr. Evans and I found a population of Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis), we also spotted some other rare sights. On the same slope just a few feet away from Showy Orchis, we spied flowering Hairy Yellow Ladyslipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) for the first time. This species of orchid can be found throughout the United States, but a flowering specimen had not yet been found on the Domain.
In the same location, we found two snakes locked in a struggle for survival. A black racer (Coluber constrictor), a very indiscriminate predator, had attempted to dine on a gray ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides). Though the racer was much larger than the ratsnake, the ratsnake had coiled tightly around the racer, refusing to give up the fight. Dr. Evans and I asked Dr. Kristen Cecala, Sewanee’s herpetologist, her thoughts on the photo. She concluded that the ratsnake would likely lose its grip over time and be devoured.