Friday, April 2, 2010

Payload In A Pond - Painted Turtles, Tapoles and Great Blue Heron

Look at the sexy claws on this guy! 

These are Eastern Painted Turtles. They are common in the southern part of Maine. They like to hang out, or 'bask' in the sun in ponds with still water. These were in Bath at the Oak Grove Cemetery pond. I had gone there hoping to find the Wood ducks. I didn't find them, but there were dozens of Painted Turtles. Generally, turtles are shy and will plop back into the water the minute they become aware of a predator. I pulled the car to the side of the road, left it running and then crept out around it, using it like a big rock. I was able to sneak up on them. These turtles spend the winter bumating (hibernating) in the mud at the bottom of the pond. It seems early for them to be out, but the water temperature in the pond is up to 60 degrees already. That's what it has to be for them to start feeding. They are omnivorous and eat plant material as well as crustaceans, small fish and tad poles. The pond is also teeming with the tads. The turtles would be mating already, though I didn't witness that. When they are a courtin', the boy and girl float and go nose to nose. The boy strokes the girl's cheeks with his enormous claws with a trembling, shivery movement as he does it. If she's into him, he grabs her shell and pulls her to him, face to face. I'll leave the rest up to you. In a couple of weeks the moms will lay eggs in sand around around the margins of the pond. The tadpoles will have developed into frogs, too. The whole place will be just a jumpin'! Herons like tadpoles and turtle babies, too. I'm expecting to see them stalking around poking into the water for these morsels. Raccoons also are a major predator of the turtles and tadpoles. Raccoons and skunks will both dig up the eggs for a rich, runny snack. This postage stamp of a pond supports a tremendous diversity of wildlife.

The tadpoles were big. This one was about 2 inches, so I'm guessing they are Bullfrog babies. I'll be checking.

This Great Blue Heron ("GBH") has all of his breeding plumage on display. He was shaking off water after poking his face in the water. Whatever he had hoped to skewer he missed.

For more information on turtles in Maine, check the Maine Herpetological Society 
web site. Sounds kind of Gothic, doesn't it? And, thanks to Wikipedia.

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  1. I love frogs and turtles and so enjoyed your photos! The photo of all the turtles basking in the sun was priceless to me. I couldn't believe the claws on the that one painted out! Did you know that the tadpole gets its nourishment from its tail as it gradually disappears? You are right...I love your brilliant lily pad opening photo!

  2. That's an excellent photo of the turtle with the claws.

  3. That painted needs a manicure.

    I love the deep, rich blues on the Heron - he's a handsome creature!

  4. great pictures as usual. I don't think I have ever seen a wood duck before. Wow.

  5. Wild and crazy in Bath! Great shots.

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