Thursday, June 22, 2006

Turtle blogging

Had to run an errand in the early evening yesterday that took me down the road through the Stoco Fen, that place of the skunk cabbages (Symplocarpus foetidus), of which I've written before. It is also the place of the pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) (rare this far south, but then so is this kind of habitat), and of the pink (Cypripedium acaule) and yellow (Cypripedium calceolus) lady's slipper orchids. On the way to my destination I saw a turtle in the road. Stopped, and was very pleased to see that it was a Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingi), a species at risk, and one I've never had a good look at before.

I got out of the car to talk to the turtle, to find out if it might prefer one side of the road or the other, but it was quite lively and not willing to have anything to do with me. It made for the north side, and once it was well off the road I went on my way.

About half an hour later I was homeward bound, and back through the fen, and there it was again, smack in the middle of the road, facing west. I stopped again, got out, tried once more to engage it in conversation, asking kind of stupid questions, "What are you doing back on the road?" and like that. I was secretly hoping that it would balk there on the road giving me an excuse to pick it up, but again, it took off, giving me some annoyed glances over its shoulder as it went, and made for the south side of the road, on which there is considerably more open water. Because I was on my way home this time, and not in any great rush, I hung around for a while to see whether it would stay off the road. I stayed on the other side of the road so as not to be a pain in the shell, and tracked its movements through the grasses, skunk cabbage, and much else that grows on that roadside. I was there for twenty minutes or so--what a fantastic place that little stretch of road is. I found the pink lady's slippers--pleased that there were still some in bloom, I was afraid I might have missed them this year. Didn't see any yellow, but I'll be going back tomorrow with a camera, and may find some then. There were no bugs, for some reason. Breezy? Too dry? In spite of the fen the mosquitoes aren't usually bad there, but the deer flies are fierce in the afternoons. Not a lot of birds sang, but I did get to hear the haunting notes of the white-throated sparrow, the lovely veery, as well as the robins, chickadees, black and white warblers, other warblers, and a mystery call of some swamp bird. Not a car went by while I was there, and while I could hear some power equipment off in the distance, the peace of the place overwhelmed it.

The turtle didn't re-emerge to take its place in the middle of the road, and I couldn't see it moving around anymore, so I tore myself away and drove home.

But speaking of turtles, my fellow eastern Ontarian Ross and his granddaughter Brianna have embarked on a project to incubate rescued turtle eggs, from a snapper, a map turtle and a stinkpot. The stinkpot (Sternotherus odoratus) is, like the Blanding's, a threatened species. The egg in that case was rescued from a road-killed mom. They will be reporting their progress on their new blog turtle rescue and hatching, and would welcome any advice people might have about incubating turtle eggs.

In a related blog note. I have been using the free version of blogrolling for my links list--and will continue to do so at least for a while. It's so easy, but the list is getting long and unwieldy. I've pulled out the eastern Ontario nature blogs now and given them their own, manual list, and will be doing the same with others, regionally or by subject as time permits. So if you are an eastern Ontario nature blogger on my blogroll who I've neglected to pull out for the new list, or one I've never listed before, please let me know. And think about joining Ontario Blogs--that list needs more nature blogs to ground the political blogs.

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