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Posts Tagged ‘turtle’

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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I never quite know what I will see when I wander about in the back areas of Huntley Meadows Park. This past Monday I came upon this partially deteriorated turtle shell. Initially it was in a muddy area adjacent to a beaver pond, but I moved it onto branches of a fallen tree to take the photos.

I just love the organic shapes and designs of the shell and the way that you can see some of its underlying structure.

turtle shell

turtle shell

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I watched through my telephoto lens last Friday, one of the juvenile Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea) at Huntley Meadows Park became increasingly curious about the turtle with whom it was sharing a log. The heron moved closer and closer and finally jumped on top of the turtle. I was shocked to see the heron then put its face mere inches from that of the turtle.

This past month, a group of four or more juvenile Little Blue Herons has taken up residence at my local marshland park. When I first saw them, I assumed they were Great Egrets, because of the bright white coloration. However, the bills are a different color than those of the egrets. I am hoping that the Little Blue Herons hang around long enough for us to see them change into the blue color for which they are named.

I managed to take a series of shots of the encounter between the heron and the turtle. I initially thought it was a snapping turtle, but one of the folks who saw a photo I posted on Facebook thinks it might be a slider of some sort, a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), I would guess after taking a closer look at the second image.

Little Blue Heron

Initially the heron eyed the turtle from a distance.

Little Blue Heron

Then he decided to get a closer look.

Little Blue Heron

Feeling bold, he placed one foot on the turtle…

Little Blue Heron

…and jumped on top of the turtle.

Little Blue Heron

His curiosity still not yet satisfied, the heron leaned in for a face-to-face encounter. (Note that the turtle has retracted one of its front legs.)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I looked intently through my long telephoto lens at the stagnant, debris-filled water in a ditch, I became acutely aware of bright red eyes staring back at me. What was this unusual red-eyed marsh creature?

Eastern Box Turtle

Pulling my eyes away from the magnified view in the camera’s viewfinder, I could see the contours of a turtle’s shell in the water, partially obscured by all of the debris. The bright color and distinctive shape of the shell and the striking red eyes made it easy to determine when I got home that this is a male Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina).

Eastern Box Turtle

Although these turtles spend most of their time on land, they seek damp mud or pools when temperatures get too high, according to information on the website of the Virginia Herpetological Society. On the day when I took this photo, temperatures soared above 80 degrees F (27 degrees C), and it’s probably pretty safe to assume that this turtle was simply trying to stay cool on an unseasonably warm spring day.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At the edge of a steep-banked little creek, this Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) lifted its head above the surface of the water. I must have spooked it a little with the sound of the camera’s shutter for it moved to a more concealed position underneath the vegetation, but continued to keep an eye on me.

Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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.

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All of nature seems to be speeding up as we move deeper into spring. Even the turtles seem to be moving faster, like this Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) that I spotted recently at a county-run historical garden.

Initially the turtle was swimming around in a small pond (as shown in the second shot). I was pleased that I was able to capture a shot of the turtle as it was emerged from the water onto the shore.

I had my 180mm macro lens on my camera when I caught sight of the turtle and I was reminded of the need to zoom with my feet when using a lens with a fixed focal length. In my zeal to get a bit closer to the turtle, I narrowly avoided sliding down the bank into the water.

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