Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Shell Game 6-7-2015

Having seen no turtles the day before, we planned our Sunday around two things... seeing our first Northern Leopard Frogs of the year and seeing lots of turtles. There was one place we could think of where we could find those things in quantity. Too bad I don't mention spots anymore!

We got to the spot by 10 AM... we had early evening plans and we knew our time was somewhat limited. That said, I spent about 10 minutes messing with a Marsh Wren, my ultimate avian nemesis. My tenacity paid off. As I was focused on a Painted Turtle, this guy flew into a bush right over it and I nailed him. Lifer #133!
Marsh Wren #83 Lifer #133 eating

My partner in crime:

Ah yes, Painted Turtles. I love them.
The reeds haven't fully grown in yet so these guys can still be seen.

Another thing that makes us happy? Massive Bullfrogs.
These two were both brutes.

So, we were walking along and we saw another turtle in the reeds.
Say... that's no Painted...
Damn, we're kicking ass on Blanding's this year. We shared the find with some elderly (my age) birders who we knew could appreciate it.

Very happy with that, we continued on... aaaand... saw another Blanding's, this time on shore.
An embarrassment of riches. Our fourth this year after none last year. Maybe this year doesn't suck ass so much after all.

Where were the Leopards, though? This place is usually (literally) hopping with them. Maybe the huge Common Carp have eaten them all. These guys are so big, they can barely stay underwater.
Common Carp
Invasive but impressive.
Common Carp

Three friends.

We had been hearing many Green Frogs but I'll be damned if we could see one. Andrea finally got her eyes on a medium sized specimen.

It was she who found the first Northern Leopard Frog, too.

This is normally a very good Garter and Water Snake place but we hadn't seen any our last time here, nor today. Perhaps they were all sucked down into the abyss.

OK, this photo sucks; I only took it to look at the shell of the guy on the right. The little noggin peeking out of the bush was a surprise upon uploading.

OK, we came for turtles. We got turtles. 34 here, I think.

This guy got his own stick because he likes to stretch out.

A couple more wee Painters.

I saw two Snappers in the water on the day but they were too quick for my slow camera-finger.

This gal was out on the path, facing the river. She was either going to or coming from nesting.
She had no desire for a close-up.

By now, we had seen a couple of Garter Snakes that had eluded our cameras. Oh well, at least they are still here. After last winter, a person starts to worry.

I saw this Leopard Frog posing beautifully and settled in for a picture.
While doing that, I had no idea that this gaggle of geese was walking right past me.
The frog made a hilarious leap of faith, perhaps at a dragonfly, and skipped in the water like a flat rock.

Walking back, Andrea stopped and snapped this picture... our only proof of a Garter Snake all day.
I tried to catch it and it disappeared into thin air. As did the next three we saw. Holy crap, we were getting burned by Thamnophis lightning. One was a gorgeous, huge, freshly shed female with a head as big as my thumb. I really wish we had a photo of her, and a chance to measure her.

Somehow, eagle-eye Andrea saw this Leopard.

She also managed this awesome shot of a Painted Turtle swimming away.

So where were the Water Snakes that are always so common here? Well, one was caught in a Blanding's trap.
They bait the traps with canned salmon (or something, I forget) and it attracts not just Blanding's (which they ID and release), but other turtles and snakes. They are safe, they won't drown and the cages are checked often. (Still, I thought about trying to free this Nerodia...)

The most interesting thing was this large female Water Snake who came up, very interested in either the "taste" coming from the cage or the trapped snake within.
Nice duck-weed face mask.

She even started rubbing her face on the side. (I think the "smell" of the bait was exciting her.)

She eventually gave up and moved on. She was roughly three feet long and beautiful.

And that was that. We're pretty happy with the day despite garters being total jerks to us and not letting us get vouchers for them. Two Blanding's in one day? Unheard of for us. Hey, I could get used to this "finding targets" thing.


  1. Querido amigo;las fotos me dan mucha ternura,Pensar en esas criaturas maravillosas ,creación de alguien muy ,.pero muy poderoso,,,, como toda la naturaleza!!!!!!!! Un beso para todos Martha

  2. Querido Mike ,no salen mis mensajes Cariños Martha