I've finally had time to check out the developments at the campground, with particular interest in recording the brilliant fall foliage. Here at the Lily Pond, the reds of Staghorn Sumac and Poison Ivy decorate the scene. It may be hard for you to detect, but there are also sprigs of white berries produced by the Poison Ivy. I still haven't seen the beaver, but know that the animal is alive and well. He recently felled a sizable Chokeberry shrub that lay across the road bordering the pond. You can see the downed sapling in the picture to the right. The pond is full of water; usually at this time of the year it is nearly empty. I even saw a turtle basking in the warm sun this week, which brings to another discovery.
Remember the egg laying episode of the Painted Turtle back in early summer? If you recall, we moved the eggs because the female turtle picked a nest site in a driveway near the Cattail marsh. We dug a hole and placed the eggs under a wire cover in hopes that they would hatch near the Lily Pond. In September, I noticed that the new nest site had been tampered with. An empty hole was dug with small yellow beads placed inside. This was not my idea of humor, but I hoped all was well with the developing eggs. So this week I noticed that the wire cover had been removed and thought I would check if any turtles or their eggs were in the sand. I found several smashed egg shells, and one distorted revealing a small turtle inside. It looked well developed, as if in sleep, but there was a small, bloody, umbilical-like cord attached to the plastron. I have taken it to watch to see if will "awaken". Remember, these turtles may not leave the nest, even if they hatch, until the warmth of spring arouses them from hibernation. It all depends on the warmth of the summer and the timing of egg laying. So this story may yet unfold as I keep watch. The egg that I saved separately to watch has not hatched, as yet.
I checked on the turtles yesterday, and thought the turtle you see to the left had changed its position! Sure enough, the legs had extended from this sleepy pose. So there is hope. I placed it in the sand near the unopened egg I've been watching. I wonder if stethoscopes are made small enough for these little animals. Does a heart beat inside?
The wind is howling outside, and we may finally get a frost before the weekend is over. The skies this morning are clear, and in the darkness I observed Orion shining forth in its starry formation! 10/21/06. Turtle watching Ronnie.