Monday, April 27, 2009

Introducing Almond and Macademia

Well, I'm a foster turtle mommy again. My co-worker found some painted turtles hatchlings coming out of nests in the ground. He harvested the 11 hatchlings and had been taking care of all of them on his own. His backyard pond has been drained so it isn't good habitat for the hatchlings. So here I go again! I certainly enjoy watching them and bonding with them, but I hate all the cleanup that goes along with it. It's no fun lugging all the water, tank, and all the fixins up and down to the basement and the every other week tank cleaning. So I'm downsizing their home in order to reduce the cleaning burden. Their new home is a medium sized tupperware with some pebbles for basking spots. I plan on buying a larger tupperware in order to accomodate their light. I figure they won't need a heat lamp. It certainly is warm enough and even warmer in the house, rather than the basement. Almond aka Al and Macademia aka Mac are relaxing on the deck right now soaking in the unseasonable warmth and hopefully some natural sun. I plan on releasing them in early fall back to nature.

Here's Mac in a quiet moment. Mac has a dot on its belly and is slightly bigger than Al.

Al was even more uncooperative during the photo shoot. Al has a nice orange belly thanks to the dried krill food.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Death cometh

This week marked the beginning of the super rare turtle quest for the year. The weather was awesome on friday and saturday. On saturday, I hit the local area which was also known for a lot of spotted turtles, which are super cute. The wetland is remote and I have a cross a river, which makes it even more challenging. Plus, the wetland is most likely bottomless. So you are basically walking upon a network of plant and tree roots with no solid ground for quite a distance. I hit the area quite late on saturday. It was hot and the sun was starting to set. All was pretty quiet and then I spotted a large dead snapping turtle. It was sad to see, but I didn't think much of it. I was slowly making my way around the perimeter and I see what I think is a glistening blackened leaf. Then I realize it's a turtle belly. I see another proper side up turtle near it. I'm thinking woohoo although why is the turtle upside down! I slowly amble my way over since walking is difficult and I try to correct the belly up turtle. It doesn't move. It's stone dead. Then I poke the other turtle. It's dead too! Both are marked spotted turtles. I really don't understand. I then sadly continue on and see another medium sized dead snapping turtle. So it was a pretty sad journey and it seems like they deaths were pretty recent since they didn't smell or almost looked like they could be alive. I did see a live painted turtle on the river,
On my way out, I saw this carpet of wild leeks. I've never seen so many leeks in one spot.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New residents

During the last big wind and rain storm awhile back, I noticed some new residents. They were a pair of American crows. At first, I wasn't sure if they weren't just two crows up to crow tricks, which includes pillaging nests. Nope. It turns out it's their own stick nest. Most of the time you wouldn't notice them. But then it comes time for their incessant cawing on nearby limbs to keep away any other crows. But of course, other crows are curious and always looking for a fight. So smackdown ensues. Hopefully their nest will be sucessful. I haven't seen any crow-lets before.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A good start to spring

Update: My coworker went out to the site with the "root cellars" (actually old wells) and that bitten up tree. He ran into two bears, which quickly ran off when they spotted him.

This past week I got to spend two beautiful days alone out in the field. The beauty of being alone is that you can go at your own speed and enjoy nature as you go. Tuesday was the best day of the bunch. Unfortunately it was one of those days were photo opportunaties didn't quite work out. I spent the morning searching for salamanders, turtles, and other herps. Things were going relatively normal until I decided to walk back to the car along the edge of the pond. It had recently rained and I was surprised to have not seen any spotted salamander eggs, especially since my co-worker had found an adult on the shore the past week. Then bam, I spotted an egg mass and then another and another (see horrible pic above...all those clumps are egg masses). Then I spotted a pile of egg masses. They looked freshly laid since they hadn't had a chance to absorb water and grow so big. The pile of egg masses looked like coral. Then I shifted my focus under the water and I saw at least three big adult salamanders running/swimming like hell away from the pile. I grabbed one and it was the skirmiest, biggest, and slipperiest salamander I ever held. My snake stick was in the other hand so I had to handle it with only one hand. I battled my way back to shore, but I eventually lost the battle and the salamander dropped out of my hand and into the water. Mind you when I had first spotted the first egg mass I was at capacity with the boots. I had about an inch from the water line to the top of my boots. Well that all went to hell and one foot got quite wet and my arm sleeve was drenched once the commotion started. I tried to go back and get another salamander but the water had become so clouded and the salamanders were wise to the invasive giant.

Other morning highlights was seeing a spotted turtle, a painted turtle, and hearing a pickerel frog call. The the lowlight of this site was getting a deer tick biting into my belly. That would be two deer ticks bites this year and from this same site! Thankfully I seem to be ok.

The afternoon I headed to another site, which was part of a state park. It had beautiful woods and a nice stream. Also there were two old structures along the stream, which I imagine were used to keep food cold....or something like that. I also found an old homestead and piles of junk. All of this was again time suckers.

When I had first stepped foot on the site, I noticed what appeared to be porcupine poop. I also noticed this action on a tree, which was right next to some old bear poop. So I was on medium alert for some bear action. I'm pretty sure this is gnawing from either squirrels or porcupine. I guess they like birch beer as well.