Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunday Journal

I really should call this post, Turtle Day, as it is mainly about Snapping Turtles, but I saw a few other fascinating creatures yesterday too so I think I'll stick with the title, Sunday Journal. Since June of 2000, I have watched for Snapping Turtles laying eggs along the embankment of the railroad tracks and the first sure sign that this yearly activity is underway is seeing a turtle in the river near the shore. These huge turtles climb the steep embankment to return to the same spot each year that they lay their eggs. Yesterday morning around nine, a neighbour arrived in our garden with the news that there was a huge Snapping Turtle in the river! Grabbing my camera we hurried down but there was no Snapping Turtle to be seen. However being wary of their ways I returned to the river at 10:30 am, and there she was! This is a great location for viewing the river for there is a railroad bridge above, with a footbridge attached to it, and it gives great views of, and in the river below. The bridge also affords wonderful views of any large birds flying overhead following the river, such as Eagles, Osprey and in the case yesterday, a Great Blue Heron! Also on my way to the river I had noticed some moths on a public building that has a large light overhead which attracts them to this location overnight. One species that I always find very beautiful is the Rosy Maple Moth. There were several of these rosy, pinkish' moths with yellow fluffy looking heads. And so I returned home to get my close up lens. I was surprised that one of the moths was yellowish, without the usual pink markings that I am used to seeing, but researching this I found that there can be variations as to its colouring. Meanwhile, back to my turtle story. A little after noon my neighbour arrives in my yard again with the news that the turtle seen in the river earlier is now on top of the embankment and will probably be laying its eggs! Okay, I went to get my camera again and this is now the third trip of the day to the river! And there is was, as shown above, resting in the grass at the edge of the steep hill. A word of caution here; never go too near a Snapping Turtle as its neck has an amazing long reach and can snap and bite, and like any creature, who likes to be disturbed? I am standing well back at quite a distance, across the railroad tracks from the turtle, using my 400mm zoom lens. We didn't stay but later saw a rather messy looking disturbed ground area when eggs probably had been laid. My neighbour and I congratulated ourselves on doing a fine bit of investigating on following up on the turtle sighting and returned home. But the turtle story wasn't over yet. During late afternoon I decided to go for a short drive along a favourite country road when I have been watching for butterflies and skippers near a maturing Milkweed patch and what surprise was waiting for me here but another turtle! This time is was a Wood Turtle crossing the road. The Wood Turtle is a land turtle and I don't often see one. This was definitely a turtle day! But remember I had said earlier that the turtle story wasn't over yet? Well, I had meant the Snapping Turtle story for shortly after I had arrived home again, yup, you guessed it, there was my neighbour again in my yard with a story of yet another Snapping Turtle in the river. Below is the result of my fourth trip to the river that day!


Mary said...

What an exciting day! How long does it take before the eggs hatch? You got a lot of exercise running back and forth :-) But the pictures are well worth the effort. Congratulations to your neightbor...the "spotter", also! I love the shot of the heron overhead and that moth is really beautiful! Such an interesting color and that fluffy yellow head!

me ann my camera said...

The incubation period is about three months depending upon the temperature, rain, etc., and also there is also the danger of some predator discovering the nest and destroying it. One year we watched the nest site, and waited and were very fortunate to see twenty baby turtles crawl out of the nest, one at a time, and crawl over the embankment to the river. It was quite a sight to see.

Your dragonflie photos are amazing!!!

me ann my camera said...

Also I checked just a short while ago and there is another turtle now in the process of laying eggs this morning along the embankment.

Becky said...

Oh what a great story on the turtles.I think this IS the year of the turtles.I have seen so many. It is amazing how strong these creatures are, and they are sooo fast if they want to bite. Have you heard them hissss?

me ann my camera said...

I've never heard a turtle make a sound! I never really thought about that; but then perhaps I am never close enough to one?

I love getting detail and the 400mm lense does that for me without having to get too close to some of these creatures.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

These are fantastic shots! I hope you get to see the turtles when they hatch. I have to remember to check the ones that I saw too.