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Horse, Turtle, Spider, Beaver

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We came upon these friendly horses, and luckily Chet Baker was weary enough at that point to have little desire to round them up for us. Lovely animals. From the decrepitude of their non-electric fencing, we realized that they are free to roam the entire road, and that the piles of horse bockie we'd been seeing were probably from them and not from some local equestrians using the road as an obstacle course.

How nice, free-roaming horses. The best pasture was right here, and they weren't going anywhere.
I find most of my box turtles by hearing them, oddly enough. A steady soft crunching resolves into a turtle, determined to find a few more earthworms before frost.

Its eyes were bright red, traditionally a sign of a male, but its overall impression was of a lady turtle. I debated long and hard over whether to disturb it by picking it up. But the Science Chimp's curiosity won out over respect for its dignity.I noticed that it had had some damage to the rear scutes on its shell, some years ago. They looked either like forest fire--a light burn on the rear part of the shell, which might have been exposed when the flames went over--or perhaps the chewings of a mouse while it was hibernating. Whatever it was had long healed over, leaving only some irregularity and discoloration.

I warned it, spoke gently to it, apologized, and lifted it into the air. Aha! the plastron, only barely scooped out. A female, as I'd suspected.

I can't really explain why this red-eyed turtle looked like a female, even before I saw its plastron. It just did. Darker, smaller, more delicate head; small size, even at this very advanced age (discernable by the completely smooth shell). I was so glad she'd live out her years along this impassable road. All turtles should be so lucky. I left her right where she was, and wished her a good hibernation.

The common mullein was ready for hibernation
with its warm woolens on

and so was the wolf spider, with next year's babies in a ball of eggs behind her

The old familiar beaver pond hove into view

and we found where the beavers had been using a black cherry tree for medicinal purposes. Shila says cherry bark is good for coughs. That sap has got to have powerful properties!

Jewellike hornets tussled on New York asters

a miniature moss landscape rose

and a tiny red maple kept its party dress on well past midnight

Chet Baker was ready to go home at last

but I had to stop to photograph a computer keyboard in the stream, made into a relic by silt and the distortion of wavelets...Fred Flintstone's Mac...

One of my favorite images from the trip. As is this one, crooked horizon and all:

I can't wait until the next hike.



No question in my mind fall is the best time to hike. Usually cool and less humid and NO BUGS! Gorgeous shots, love the turtle.

lovely images!

I'd love to lift rocks with you, Chimp. Oh the things I'd learn!

Bellissima! I want that horse.

Thanks so much for these pictures. I'm in the midst of starting a garden and am not getting to hike, go birdwatching, or kayak. But hopefully, I'll get to take a break from fence building, path making, chopping up branches for mulch, moving dirt and building garden beds, transplanting and putting in my winter garden to start up again.

What a lovely assortment of "micro" images! I can appreciate the box turtle, the asters, the wolf spider (and I was so fearful of spiders as a child!)... and I LOVE the mossy landscape. Sometimes it's the little things that make one appreciate the environment. If only everyone could see the world like this, instead of walking (or worse, driving) by.

P.S. - Chet Baker looks like a little black pig from that angle! <3

When he stretches out on his side in the sun we call him a hot piglet.

I love your photos and fall walks! Very envious that you are still seeing turtles at this point.

I think I agree with your sexing of the box turtle. My impression is that generally females are smaller and rounder than males, in addition to the convexity of their plastra as compared to the concavity of the males. Males tend to be larger and longer with more elaborate scalloping on the rear of their carapace. They also have longer and thicker tails. Eye color is really misleading, though as you note, males normally have the red eyes.

The insects you photographed were halictid bees, not wasps. They come in a variety of gorgeous metallic colors. Under the microscope, you can see that their metallic sheen is actually caused by lots of tiny pits in their armor.

The beaver pond...I had forgotten you had one nearby. What a treat!! I would love to spend hours strolling those roads, catching great images to carry us through to spring, like the leaf-covered drive, that reminds us it has many great things to show if we wander along its shoulder slowly.
Love these fall shots!!

Beautiful walk to the pond...inspiring us yet again to take the time to do the things that matter.

Chet Baker, like my funny valentine Chet Baker?

Oh, so wonderful! My Junebug also had red eyes, yet laid eggs a few weeks after I found her injured up the road. Thirteen years later, when I took her to live with a rehabber who could give her a richer life, I found out she was at least 80. Hilary says June's smooth black underside told her so.

I wonder what drove poor Fred to hurl his proto-compumasheen's keyboard into the stream?


"Science Chimp" - heh.

Just out of curiosity, what's the latest in the season that you've found a box turtle active that far north?

Posted by Anonymous November 15, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Had a New Year's Day box turtle near The Wilds in Caldwell, OH, one year when it hit the mid 60's for a few days. Needless to say I buried him deep in an east-facing slope, and it plunged to the 20's that very night. Silly old man.

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