Friday, May 12, 2017

2017 Spring Snakes, Turtles and Birds

The past months I've been carving wood figures in our basement. One day I was surprised to find a small garter snake climbing the stairs. I relocated it to our garden that is farthest from lawn where a mower could hurt it. A few days later, a much larger (30") milk snake surprised me by passing over the foot pedal that controls the carving tool I was using. It too I released outdoors.
Cellar Dwelling Garter Snake

Milk Snake Traveling Over Tool Power Cords on Cellar Floor
Same Milk Snake Released on a Garden Path

We have an enclosed blueberry patch that has fencing all around and netting over the top. It has a few holes large enough for birds to get in and they often cannot find their way out. I then climb in, catch and release them. Our dog, Belle, thinks this is great fun and often helps me by distracting them by running around outside the fence. One day when I was not inside the enclosure, she jumped on the fence and shoved her nose underneath, catching a dove in her mouth. She was very proud when he brought it to me. I praised her and she readily let me gently take it away. After resting awhile, it exploded in a cloud of feathers and flew away.
Mourning Dove Rescued from Our Dog's Mouth
 While walking through our acres of grass, I'm always looking for turtles, snakes and amphibians so I don't step on them. The dozen or more lady painted turtles in our pond lay nests of eggs randomly around our lawn. Though I've tried fencing these nests and moving them inside garden fences, skunks usually decimate every one. This year, one nest succeeded in producing baby turtles. So far I've found and relocated three to our small hidden pond that we keep secluded so that blue herons do not eat the frogs, salamanders and baby turtles that thrive there. These small creatures do not fare well in our large pond with its thriving bass population and visiting herons.
Newly Hatched Painted Turtle (2017 #2)

Same Painted Turtle Showing Plastron (bottom shell) 

Another Newly Hatched Painted Turtle (2017 #3)

Painted Turtle #3 Showing a Different Pattern on Its Plastron 
 A pair of geese make their home on our pond every year. They use our abandoned bee hive platform in the large pond as a safe haven for their nest. This year they had seven eggs and today brought us five goslings. I hurried to see what happened to the other two eggs and found one dead gosling sprawled across the nest but no hint of another. Last year there was a single large egg that did not hatch. Although I relocate every snapping turtle I find in our pond, earlier this spring we saw a very large one pass under our canoe. Maybe it ate the seventh gosling! 
Mom and Dad Geese with Five Goslings Between Them

Goose Nest Remnants Including One Missing Gosling

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