Monday, May 30, 2016

The Quest to Nest. 5-29-2016

The forecast called for a much cooler day for Sunday, more like the 60s and cloudy than the 90s and sunny of Saturday. That's OK with us... we wanted to get out while it is turtle nesting season and if you're a turtle and the urge hits... you gotta nest. So we headed to a Norfolk County place to look for turtles and maybe flip a snake or two.

The parking lot was packed, much to our dismay, but this place gets crowded sometimes. We still have pretty good luck, though. Right behind the bathrooms, we went to flip some storm drain thingeys. On the way to the second one, Andrea saw this pretty little Garter slithering away from my footsteps.

The second storm drain held more Gartery delights.
I love Garters... look at that variation.

A nearby tarp got us a skinny mini who wanted to shed.

Sure enough, down by the first pond, it was clogged up with humanity. There was a fishing contest being judged which, to me, is just a killed animal contest. We went by quickly. Our next sighting was a bunch of well developed tadpoles in a vernal. Wood Frog, I think.

After the quick snakey beginning, it got a bit tougher. We finally scored a Red and a Lead...

A Gray Catbird was going on and on and on...

The next pond had some hardcore Painters up, scrapping for some sunlight. Sad thing is, there wasn't much.

Not far from there, we saw a Ribbon Snake on the crawl. Andrea got a safety shot. I had the noggin all in focus and swoosh... gone. Here is, then, the safety shot. It's all we got.

These dragonflies, Calico Pennants, I'm told, were all over the place. Very lovely.

We were eager to get up to a particular spot where we have seen turtle nests before. And Ringnecks. Either one would suit us just fine. A large Garter would suit us fine, too... and that's what we next saw.
She was a candidate for measuring but we were unable to get her.

Hey, what was that about Ringnecks?
Pale belly... probably due for a shed.

We were heading over towards a pile of rocks when Andrea said, "what's that?", pointing to a lump that she knew full well what it was...
Somebody had just crossed the path and was on a long journey.
We kept hikers with a small dog away from her but then we left her alone, too. We didn't want to impede her progress.

One of the rocks we'd been heading toward had a massive Ringneck under it.

On the way back to the trail, we saw the Snapper gal facing a steep hill on her way to the sunny nesting field.

That field is exactly where we went, too, though we took the more traditional route, the trails. We saw no other turtles up there nesting yet. While examining the edges of the field, we heard some noises in the woods... here she comes!

I filmed some of her charge through the woods but the wind was blowing into the microphone. I hope the selected music is OK... I think it works fine.

She got to a stone barrier at the top of an incline that looked like this:
She made it through with ease and continued on to the field.

Walkin' tall, she disappeared into the grass to lighten her load. All that work (including bulldozing through a pile of sticks) to lay a couple of dozen eggs that will probably just get eaten by skunks anyway. What a magnificent animal.

Further along, we did the Red/ Lead thing again.

We took some new trails and found a pond that had one Painter lording over it.

Those trails led us back to familiar ground. Right away, Andrea spotted this large ginger Garter crossing the path in the recently uncovered sun.
Some bikes had just gone by. Thankfully, they didn't take this path.

Up by yet another pond, there was a group of people fishing. They had no idea this long Garter was right behind them.
I tapped her tail to get her away from them.

From a bird blind, we spotted some Painters basking waaaay out there.

By this point, we had circled back to where the Ribbon was. We looked there again (as is our way) and saw a different Ribbon there! Smaller and speedier, we never even got a safety shot of this one. Oh well, I needed something to beat myself up over for a while.

This Painter was up basking in a place that was turtle-free on the way in.

I swear that same Catbird was still going. It was three hours later.

Speaking of birds, swallows were cruising around and I swear I saw one speed full-tilt into the old farmhouse thing where the fishing competition had been judged earlier. Andrea went in and got this fabulous shot of a nesting Barn Swallow, incidentally, #88 on the year.
Barn Swallow #88

One was nesting outside under the eaves, too.
Barn Swallow #88

While I was looking around a stream, deafened by the caterwauling of a brat who had no filter, Andrea was photographing the first frog of the day. A huge Bullfrog.
I couldn't hear her call me for some reason.

We were toast but we still made our way over to a known Ringneck/ Garter spot. We flipped and saw both. I grabbed the Ringer and tried to pin a shoestring Garter with my pinky, but he got away. The Ringer was a beauty, though.
It crawled into Andrea's sleeve.

On the way out, we wanted to see if anyone was back under the storm drains. The small, more gingery one was back and pissed to have Andrea say goodbye to it.

We were exhausted but as we sat thinking of that Snapper and the ordeal she had to go through, we felt like we had it pretty easy. Not a bad day. Only one frog, though... weird. This place usually is hoppin'. I guess we'll just have to come back soon and look again.


  1. enjoying these turtle videos quite a bit. great photos and notes as always