Monday, July 06, 2009

Nature Walk with 2 Surprises (at bottom of post)

I invited our nature group out to one of our local parks to do a nature walk focusing on dragonflies since we'd seen so many of them last week when we let Marvin go. Even with the heat (we've been in the triple digits for quite awhile, though today was only in the upper 90's) and a few days notice, we had about 15 people show up. And, we were in for some surprises!

First we fed the critters including...

pigeons (& ducks)...

nutria, including 4 babies...

and a cute squirrel.

Then, we watched the turtles. I've only noticed the red eared sliders before. I saw 2 of these very large turtles (quite a bit larger than dinner plates) with these crazy long noses. I was guessing they were hog nosed turtles, but now I think they are called soft-shell turtles (which one of the moms mentioned). Besides the funny nose, they also had long necks. In this photo, the turtle's shell doesn't start until almost the edge of the photo. I didn't notice that while I was at the pond, so I'll have to go back and observe these turtles some more.

Here's a photo of his "cute" nose!

Next, as we walked around the pond, I found this tiny caterpillar. It acted very strangely. Whenever I got near him, he would "jump" into a circl shape and "hop" out of the way! He could "hop" about a foot or so and he was really hard to catch. He had light blue and brown stripes.

We did see lots of dragonflies and damselflies. I think this might be a type of darner.

And, a male common white tail skimmer.

Here is one of our first 2 big surprises. This is one of those suprises where I don't realize what I've photographed until I get home. Do you notice that little brown "bug" above the dragonfly? When I got home, I thought it was a little bug I happened to catch in the photo. Then, I realized what it was... this dragonfly has JUST MOLTED for the LAST TIME and has emerged as a "grown up" dragonfly!!! Isn't that neat??? (And, did you know adult dragonflies can live for 5 to 6 years? And, that larval dragonflies eat larval mosquitos and adult dragonflies eat adult mosquitos? Pretty handy to have around!)

And, our other big surprise... the kids found this turtle. This red eared slider had dug a hole and the kids were wondering if it might be laying eggs. I honestly didn't know! I've read quite a bit about sea turtles going on shore to lay eggs, but hadn't thought much about pond turtles.

Well, unfortunately this little momma got scared by all of the people around and high tailed it out of here... and she was FAST!!! (Well, fast for a turtle!) And, there were no eggs in her nest. But, yes, it was her nest! She was going to LAY EGGS! I wish I would have realized it and we could have snuck off and kept quiet and perhaps seen this amazing event.

We had a lot of fun today and you never know what you'll see if you just go outside and take a look around!


lahbluebonnet said...

What fun!

Mama Teaching 2 said...

What nature day! We have so many dragonflies and mosquitoes. Good to know that we have a balance. I was very surprised to hear how long dragonflies live. Wow!

Dana said...

Wow, what neat surprises! See, it was your reward for braving the heat to do some nature study!

jugglingpaynes said...

I love your pictures! I didn't know there were other long necked turtles. The only ones around here with long necks are snapping turtles.

Thank you for your comments!

Peace and Laughter,

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