Nature Blog Network
Showing posts with label turtles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label turtles. Show all posts

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vertebrates of Devil's Lake

The nine group camp sites at Devil's Lake form a semi-circle. In the center of the circle, next to the shower'bath house facilities, is a stand of pine trees that, for as long as I remember, is home to a great blue heron rookery. I've no idea how many birds nest there, but they are constantly coming and going. Their warbles and cackles are the white noise of the sites, and their occasional screams pierce the air in a most disconcerting way. It keeps things from being dull, that's for sure.

This little fellow decided to fledge a bit early. It wasn't injured, as far as we could tell, but it managed to wander itself right into the bathroom complex. And it was ferocious. Though not even close to its full adult size, its feet and beak, overlarge for its stature, may have been their size. And even if not, they were imposing. It made a racket when someone approached, both by calling and by clicking its beak. Chris did manage to rescue it and return it to the grove of pines where the nests are, and when we went to check on it, it was gone. I hope that it survived...
In addition to herons, we saw these Sandhills several times. They seemed to inhabit a farm field near the park, and enjoy wading in this pond which was across the road. At one point, we actually ran across -- though happily not over -- the pair in the road. Here, we saw them dancing in the water right close to us... but by the time I was picture-ready, they had moved across the pond.
Fox snake getting ready to strike (right in the middle).
This turtle is burying eggs (or,digging in preparation to lay them). We saw another crossing the road, probably to find a nest site, and we saw a HUGE snapper moving away from the water, presumably for the same reason.
Little red squirrel. They are so much cuter and feistier and chirpier than the grey ones we see here. I just love them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Everybody's Out...

...enjoying the beautiful weather. Yes, we finally got one of those days -- one of those weekends, better yet -- when you can sit outside, unmoving, and feel warm. When the temperature feels like summer although the colors are still early spring. A day that smells like sunscreen. One of those days when the slog through winter seems worthwhile, because we got to this, and it's marvelous because we waited so long for it.

And everyone is out enjoying it. We saw about 20 turtles, sitting on a log and soaking in the day. As we approached, they one by one plopped into the water, and then re-emerged, the sunbathing too enticing and the people too distracted by the little skull they found:
(About 3 inches long, non-rodent, not a lot of teeth... present or originally, for that matter).

Dragonflies were out, too... happy day!!! I first saw him as a flash, just that, that disappeared into the trees, but I knew that nothing else shimmers the same way in the sunshine. When we stood still and watched the pond, we were able to see several darting past, soaring and diving. They were male green darners and none alighted long enough for a photo op, but that's OK. We've got months of odonata watching ahead of us.

Snakes were out, although the only one I saw disappeared quickly into the grass. Frogs were out, also, calling loudly but there was also a froggy plop, animal unseen, as we approached the water.

The bugs were out, flies and gnats swarming... yesterday I saw my first wasp, and today I saw several more. First mosquito, too, although it is no more.
This tick (left) hitched a ride on my pants but didn't make it to my skin, thankfully. I also took a picture of this velvet mite, a much friendlier little arachnid, because the red dot caught my eye.

Spring ephemerals certainly aren't out in strength yet, but...

this hepatica decided to grace us with a bloom today, and violets are in full force. Others are just leaves yet, spring beauties looking like grass and trout lilies barely distinguishable from soil. But soon, soon... we're behind this year. Hepatica flowered on April 2 last year, and I still haven't seen even the leaves of mayapple or bloodroot poking through the soil (which were also noted on April 2 last year). I hope this isn't because mine are dead! But I feel like every year, I think they've died and every year they do eventually show up. Fingers crossed...

In the garden, carrots are planted now, and almost our entire front yard is covered in cardboard meant to smother the turf grass. We're putting in another native garden. Best, I still had time to sit outside and read lazily before the clouds rolled in and the winds became annoyingly strong a few minutes ago. I think I just heard thunder. Perhaps time to go close all the windows and doors? (I guess that's the beginning of the cold front, as today's 85 degree high is supposed to be followed by the 50's tomorrow.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cute Cookie

A student found this painted turtle in his deck and brought it to his class today. I got to go with them to release him into the wild. The kids, who developed quite an attachment in only 4 hours, called it Tiny Tim, but I called it Cookie. Actually, I call all turtles that are about an inch (give or take) in diameter cookie turtles. They just make me think of little cookies, the kind of thing you could pop in your mouth in one bite. I mean, I wouldn't actually do that, even if I weren't a vegetarian, but... they're just as cute as little cookies, even though they have little grumpy-old-man faces.

In other news... nearly everything (or at least some members of every species) has at least tiny leaves now -- locusts and lindens, ashes and oaks... it's a green world out there! And the first lilac flowers opened today, but just like one flower per bunch...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Yellow! Etc.

Outside, lightning flashes and thunder crashes. The house shakes. It's the first storm of the spring. This following a 75 degree day with winds so strong that we saw branches fall in the woods. Some discoveries from today.
First celandine poppy in my yard.
Sunflower birdhouse gourd, painted by Naomi, recently hung by Naomi's mom.
And... some non-yellow things I noticed today...
Interesting beaver chew.
Very large Mayapple... maybe an Aprilapple?
False rue anenome.
Herd of turtles (I counted 7 painted turtles sunning themselves).
Mertensia (Virginia bluebells).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Paddling Reflections

Both days this weekend were warm (low 70s) and sunny (although the sun's angle is about 30 degrees in the middle of the day). We took full advantage.
I went canoeing with my dad on Sunday afternoon. (note: all the green in the picture is buckthorn. The rest of the leaves have pretty much turned color and fallen off...) Before my grandfather died, he and my dad used to go canoeing almost every Sunday when the water was open. After he died, for a while my dad and I went every week. But this summer, we didn't go at all. This is partly due to the fact that my dad basically lives in England and only comes home for about 1 weekend a month; it's partly due to the fact that my dad's shoulder was injured this summer. At any rate, it was nice to get out this weekend. (another note: my arms are out of shape. Apparently approximately 7 minutes of lifting 8-lb weights 2 times a week is not equivalent to an hour of paddling every week.)
For a while, I had thought that the herons were gone. We used to see them at every turn. But we didn't see any until about 2/3 of the way through our paddle -- and then we rounded a corner and saw this fellow. I guess they're not all gone after all.

And, on the same fallen tree was a turtle!

I would like to end this post with a note about paddle sports. I noticed the trend today of people kayaking with iPods. I know that they are fitness paddling and I don't have a problem with people jogging with headphones. But it bothers me that people have them while paddling. I don't know. A big part of what makes paddling enjoyable is the sound of the boat slicing through the water, tiny waves lapping against the bow. And the plunk of your paddle entering, the drips as you pull it out. Not to mention the sounds of nature, and all that. Headphones wreck it. So people, just don't.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!!!

A busy, sunny, windy day.
Observations and happenings:
  1. Bur Oak buds beginning to swell.
  2. Cattails poking new green leaves in burned areas.
  3. Student found very large egg shell cracked open. Of what, I do not know.
  4. Student also found two dead turtles. One just a shell, one rotting inside with maggots and everything. Took photos, but no time to download them now.
  5. Many tree swallows nesting in bluebird boxes.
  6. Moths on my garage door when I got home tonight.
  7. Planted potatoes in garden (not me, personally).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Southland in the Springtime

We have returned from our Journey South; I have tasted spring and returned to the starving almost-north. While we were gone, on Mar 28-29, 6 inches of snow fell on Chicago's northern suburbs; some of it remains in the corner of the yard. But we missed all that...

We left on Friday night and drove pretty much straight south. Past Chicagoland, it was night time, and so I could not see changes as they occurred. (Interesting sighting in Chicago, though... tents in the forest preserves, not in any sort of sanctioned campsites. Is nature now the place to look for signs about the economy, as well? Are these the newly homeless victims of forclosure? Crazy.) Anyhow.

We drove until quite late, stopped in Louisville, KY, and awoke to resume our drive while it was still dark. The sun rose while we were somewhere between Louisville and Lexington; although perhaps I should say the day broke (we did not see the sun at all on Saturday). The hills of Kentucky were wonderfully green, even through the mist. The roadside grass was verdant; yellow daffodils swayed in the wind. The understory of the forest -- the layer that here we might call the buckthorn-and-honeysuckle later, and there seems to be absent of buckthorn but still has honeysuckle -- was leafy. The taller trees had no leaves yet, but almost all were flowering or seeding, having already flowered (as in the case of maples). From a distance, this had a hazy coloring effect. It was like a subtle fall. Rather than the bold crimson and gold of autumn, the trees were coated in the muted burgandy and chartreuse of tree flowers. Understated. Beautiful more in the hopeful sense of things to come than anything else.

As we continued into West Virginia, Virginia, and finally North Carolina, we saw more showy flowering trees polka dotting the woods, like redbud, dogwood and some sort of fruit trees. Some tall trees were actually leafing out, though the leaves were tiny.

It seemed leaves actually grew larger and more plentiful each day of our trip. There were many factors in play, here... time, elevation, latitude, and possibly my imagination. But actually, once leaves emerge, they grow measurably each day, so it is quite likely that there were more and larger leaves every day. Even in Ohio, there was a lot of green. Until, of course, we returned here, where the only leaves I've seen are on honeysuckles. (Boo.)

The best part of the trip, nature-viewing-wise, was the wildflowers. Spring ephemerals... their name says it all. Who wouldn't be thrilled to happen upon something ephemeral? Here are some photos...
1. Bloodroot (Ohio, also blooming in NC)
2. Dutchman's breeches (Ohio)
3. Spring Beauties (N. Carolina)
4-5. Hepatica (Ohio). Note color variations, which range from purple to pink to white.
6. Mayapple (NC; some were fully umbrella-ed, but I like this photo)
7. Trillium (Ohio, at similar stage in NC)
8. Naomi sketching ephemerals. I quite wish I had a scanner so I could put sketches in; I am a better plant sketcher than photographer, but... oh, well.
Also seen, but now shown, because, really, who wants to look at too many photos... rue anenome, cutleaf toothwort, violets, trout lilies (leaves only), some yellow flower that wasn't fully open and therefore I couldn't ID, and probably more that I am not thinking of now.
Meanwhile, back in Illinois:
A friend saw the first garter snakes, 4/1. Turtle, 4/1. Trout lilies emerging, 4/1. Wild garlic emerging, 4/1?.
And, I planted many seeds indoors for that day, 6-8 weeks in the future, when frost danger is over and veggies can go outside. Planned to plant cold season crops outside today, but it is supposed to possibly snow again so I will wait a few days.