Monday, July 18, 2005

Today's sky report

Maybe I should call this one today's nature report. As I was leaving for work on Friday, I saw a (not so) little head peaking up at me from the culvert that feeds the pond to the right of my driveway. I had to look, so I stopped the car, got out and looked down into the culvert. Already thrashing through the weeds and cat-tails, making his way back to the pond was a very large turtle. Not being well versed in all things turtle (necks, soup, the rock band), I'm not sure what type it was. When I described the size (back bigger than a serving platter) and the pointy face to other non-experts, they indicated that it might be a snapping turtle. One on-line guide says:

Snapping Turtle
Size: 8 - 18½"
Habitat: muddy, weedy ponds and marshes
Food: scavenger, eats crayfish, small turtles, frogs, fish, and ducklings
Notes: won't bother you if you won't bother it, but stands its ground when provoked

That seems to fit the bill, given that the pond is rather muddy and weedy and there are plenty of frogs in the pond on which he/she can feast. In fact, it may be the power of suggestion, but could it be that the nights are getting quieter as the bullfrogs are picked off one by one?

On Saturday, as I was mowing around the house, I saw another turtle on the other side of the house (when I say I live in a swamp, I'm not kidding). This one was slightly smaller than the one I had seen the day before, and its back was cleaner, not having any of the residual pond scum on its shell that the previous day's turtle had shown. It made me wonder how far turtles travel and whether or not this turtle was related to the one by the pond. Whatever the relationship, it now sees clear that it will be best to keep our small dog inside or he may lose a nose to the snappers....

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