Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Chelydra serpentina serpentina’

This must be egg-laying season for Eastern Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) for I have seen them on multiple occasions this past week far away from the water that is their normal habitat. I spotted this venerable one in a grassy field at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I am happy that I was able to capture some of the turtle’s wonderful skin texture  and serious expression in this head-and-shoulders portrait. I do realize, of course, that turtles do not really have shoulders—I used a bit of artistic license in characterizing the portrait with those words (and in calling myself an “artist”).

Many people say that snapping turtles look prehistoric to them, but I tend to think of Yoda every time that I see one. In my mind, I imagine a snapping turtle speaking with Yoda’s wisdom and unusual grammar structure with expressions like, “Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” (Lots of wonderful Yoda quotes like this one can be found at yodaquotes.net.)

Snapping Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When I spotted this Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) from a distance yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I thought it might be a fox, because of its reddish-brown color. It was only when I got closer that I realized that it was a snapping turtle covered with mud—I suspect that she had recently been digging a nest to bury eggs. I got low trying to do an eye-level shot and am pleased with the expression that I was able to capture.

snapping turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I never know what I will see when I visit Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I encountered this large Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) right in the middle of one of the paths at the refuge last Friday. I generally see snapping turtles in the water or sunning themselves at the water’s edge. I only recall a single instance when I have seen a snapping turtle this far out of the water and on that occasion it was digging a hole and getting ready to lay eggs. I wonder if that was why this one was on dry land.

The turtle looked like it was relaxing, but I gave it a wide berth after I snapped its photo, wanting to make sure that I was the only one snapping.

Snapping Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

Read Full Post »

As a child, I remember thinking that turtles could all pull their bodies inside of their shells for protection. Clearly that is not the case with this prehistoric-looking Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) that I spotted last week lounging on a fallen tree at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

We kept little turtles as pets several times in my family as I was growing up and I remember the clear flat plastic habitat that we used that had a small plastic palm tree. As a product of the suburbs of Boston, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with wildlife, though I was Boy Scout for a while.

To this day I am amazed by the size and apparent power of snapping turtles, which are pretty common in my favorite marshland park. Most of the time I see them moving slowly in the water and only occasionally do I see one sunning itself on a log as the smaller turtles regularly are wont to do—I imagine that it is quite a chore to haul that massive body out of the water.

snapping turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I was a little surprised when an unusually shaped mound of dirt slowly began to move in the shallow waters of a muddy pond at Huntley Meadows Park. When it raised its massive head, I realized it was an Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) newly arisen from the bottom of the pond.

The extra weight of the mud on its back didn’t seem to affect the turtle’s swimming ability—it must be nice to be so big and strong.

Snapping Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Creatures of all sorts are stirring in the marsh now that the weather has warmed up, including this particularly fierce-looking one with amazing eyes. What is it? It’s an Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina), a species that is pretty common in my local marsh.

snapping turtlesnapping turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Far away from any adult supervision, this baby snapping turtle seemed to be having trouble figuring out how to forage for food on his own.  He stretched out his neck as far as it would go, but was still not within reach of the plants that he was eying. The realization had not yet struck him that was going to have to move his body closer. Just above him you can see a little fish that was monitoring his progress, but staying beyond the reach of those jaws, in case the turtle decides he needs a little protein in his diet.

baby_snapper_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

When the family of Red-eared Slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) adopted an orphaned turtle, they had no idea that the baby would grow so big. Despite his disproportionate size, the larger turtle, an Eastern Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina), likes to participate in all family activities and doesn’t seem to realize that he is different from the other members of his adopted family.

I chose a natural setting for this family portrait and managed to catch almost everyone in a good pose—unfortunately, one of them had an attitude and refused to look directly at the camera and smile. Most of us have similar informal family portraits with the same problem. I don’t know how professional portrait photographers get everyone to cooperate.

co-existence_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

It may be hard for this snapping turtle to climb the ladder of success, when he had such difficulties merely getting himself onto a floating log. It would be understatement to note that Eastern Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) are not exactly graceful when they pull themselves out of the water (and even in the water, they seem a bit clumsy).

I read somewhere on-line that snapping turtles—unlike most other turtles—generally do not bask in the sun out of the water. Therefore, I was a little surprised when this turtle swam up to the log and began his attempt to climb onto it. It was like watching a movie in slow motion as he struggled and strained to pull his body up out of the water.

The first image shows him taking a break after making it halfway to his goal. I love the details of his visible front leg and all of his wrinkles. In the second shot, he has achieved his objective and seems to be settling in for an afternoon nap in the sun.

I noted that the log is no longer floating out of the water as it was at the start.—apparently success weighs heavy on the victor.

snapper2_blogsnapper3_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, when an Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) crawled onto a floating log, where a much smaller Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) was already basking in the sun, it looked like there might be a showdown.

The two faced off, staring at each other. Despite the size difference, the small turtle did not appear to be intimidated and refused to back off at all. Eventually they both relaxed and decided that peaceful co-existence was the best option.

It turned out that both the log and the sun were big enough to share.

turtles_blog

Click on the photo to see a higher resolution view.

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Last weekend I kept seeing snapping turtles in the water with their shells at an angle to the surface. Initially I couldn’t figure out what was going on, until a helpful fellow photographer explained that the turtles were mating.

Mating? That sort of made sense, but I was a little confused, because in each case I could see only a single turtle. Doesn’t it take two to tango? I kept watching and eventually I was able to see that there were two turtles, but one of them was being held underwater most of the time. It seemed pretty violent. On the positive side, it seems that the female did not bite off the male’s head in the process, as praying mantises are said to do while mating.

As I look the photos below, I have trouble identifying body parts and determining which ones belong to which turtle. I don’t understand the anatomy of the Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) and will leave that to the experts.

turtles2_edited-1_blogturtle1_edited-1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Like prehistoric beasts from another era, the snapping turtles have finally emerged from the mud and the slime of my local marsh.

Painted turtles and Red-eared Sliders have been basking in the sun for weeks now, but it seems like the Eastern Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) like for it to be a bit warmer before they start moving. This past weekend I saw quite a few snapping turtles in the marsh, most of them with a lot of mud still piled on the top of their shells, including some pretty big ones. Some of them were floating on the surface of the water, but they don’t appear to bask on land like their smaller counterparts.

I would hesitate to call any of them beautiful or even ruggedly handsome—scarey seems a more appropriate adjective. After reading that snapping turtles are omnivores, I have reconfirmed my desire to keep my distance from these creatures. Thankfully, I have a long telephoto lens.

snapping_blogsnapping2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: