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Archive for the ‘Reptiles’ Category

What is your first thought when you see these three turtles together? Are they just friends or more than friends? The turtles seem to be pretty comfortable sharing a confined space and there is plenty of space in our minds for varied interpretations on the nature of their relationship. According to the old saying, “two’s a couple and three’s a crowd”—is that always true?

Whatever the case, the turtles at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge have been definitely been enjoying our recent sunny days. My turtle identification skills are not very good, but I think these all may be Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta), though there is a chance that they might be Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans).

I love images like this one that allow viewers to use their creativity to interpret what they see and to generate in their minds their own mini-narrative of what is going on. Ménage à trois or just friends—you make the call.

red-eared sliders

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the hazards of exploring creeks and streams at this time of the year is that snakes may be sunning themselves at water’s edge. Last week I was startled when I suddenly realized that there was a snake right in front of me, precisely in the direction in which I had been moving.

I managed to get a shot of the sunning snake, which I believe to be a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon), just before it set off swimming down the creek. Although the first shot may make it look like I was really close to the snake, I was actually a good distance away—generally I prefer to use long telephoto lenses with snakes.

Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Why did the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) cross the road? It sounds like the opening line of a joke, but I asked myself that question yesterday when I spotted a snapping turtle lumbering its way across one of the trails at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The turtle’s back was covered with mud, suggesting it had only recently emerged from its winter sleep. In the past I have sometimes seen snapping turtles out of the water when they were getting ready to lay eggs, though it seems a little early for that to be taking place.

I have always thought that snapping turtle look like dinosaurs. What do you think?

Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday was sunny, but not particularly warm—about 48 degrees F (9 degrees C)—so I was shocked when I encountered a snake. My eyes were pointed upwards as I scanned the trees for birds, but a slight movement just in front of my feet caught my attention and when I looked downward, I saw the sinuous curves of a snake (as shown in the second image below).

The snake, which I think may be an Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis), moved to the side of the path and into the brush. It stopped moving long enough, however, for me to capture the close-up image image below. I know that some folks will find the image to be creepy or even frightening, but I like the way that it shows some of the wonderful details of the snake’s markings and its body.

Although it may look like I was really close to the snake, I was actually a good distance away and was shooting with a long telephoto lens.

Eastern Ratsnake

 

Eastern Ratsnake

Eastern Ratsnake

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The temperature today feels so frigid—right about the freezing level—that it is hard to remember that only this past Monday it was sunny and 60 degrees (16 degrees C). While I was enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I photographed these sunning turtles, a relatively rare sight in December.

I did not get a good enough view of the turtles to be able to identify them with any confidence, but I think they may be Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta) or possibly Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans).

Turtles in December

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When I spotted this turtle from a distance earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it was so elevated that I thought it was standing on a log or a rock. It was only when I zoomed in on this Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) that I realized that it was standing on the back of another turtle. Yikes!

You have to be pretty old—probably about my age—if you remember the song whose name I used as the title for this blog posting. No, it was not sung by The Turtles.

Eastern Painted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Semi-submerged in the duckweed in the shallow water, this snake patiently awaited an unseen prey yesterday at the pond at Ben Brenman Park, a small suburban park not far from where I live in Alexandria, Virginia. I did not get a really good look at the snake, which dove into the water shortly after I took this shot, but I think it might be a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon).

In many ways I was more interested in the sinuous curves of the snake’s body than in the identification of the snake’s species. There is an abstract beauty in the colors and the shapes in this image that appeals to me, though I know that some of my viewers are so creeped out by the main subject that they will find it hard to see any beauty whatsoever in the image.

Northern Water Snake

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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