A day for turtles, Merganser update

May 16, 2010

Saturday’s trip to Huntley Meadows Park was dominated primarily by snapping turtles.

When I initially arrived at the park, I was concerned when I saw a full parking lot, including a school bus. I hate heavy weekend traffic. Luckily on the trails I found a fairly loose distribution of visitors that allowed for some relatively effective shooting.

Since the temperature was similar to last weekend’s snake-filled outing, I expected to see a few snakes, but found none.

In the woods about 100 yards from the wetlands, I found my first surprise. There was a snapping turtle sitting on the trail. At first I didn’t notice it, but I saw something out of the corner of my eye after passing.

Once I raised my camera and fired off a few frames, it became uncomfortable and slid into the nearby vegetation.

On the boardwalk, a small creature darted past my foot and then paused. Only a few feet away sat a male Broad-headed Skink like I’ve seen in the past.

I made a few quick photos and then, with traffic increasing on the boardwalk, moved on.

Near the primary outlook for the wetlands were a number of snapping turtles resting on logs in the water. The more I looked the more I saw.

Also in this area was the same high concentration of White Egrets I observed on my last trip as well as the mother Mallard and mother Merganser with their young. On the topic of the Merganser, I’ve been going back and forth trying to determine if it is a Red-Breasted Merganser or a Hooded Merganser. I may have been mistaken in my initial assertion that it was Red-Breasted. Where are my bird experts?

I’m sad to report that although there were six young Mergansers on Thursday, on Saturday only five remained. Unless there was some major incident with the heat, it’s likely that the youngster succumbed to predation.

An interesting note about the heat – have you ever considered how the birds deal with the heat? Of course they have the water, but what do they do when they are sitting out in the sun? I got a small glance at that when the Mergansers returned to a familiar resting area near the boardwalk. As I watched, all the young birds raised their heads, opened their mouths and slowly swayed their heads from side to side. After a few minutes of that behavior, they returned to the water.

2 Responses to “A day for turtles, Merganser update”

  1. […] after I visited Huntley Meadows, the lady and I went to the National Zoo in Washington DC. I haven’t been to a zoo in a […]

  2. […] Huntley Meadows I was startled to see the mother Merganser all alone standing on a log. Her young, five at last count, were nowhere to be […]

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