Monday, May 13, 2013

Camp Kreitzer Critters

There is never a dull moment at the Camp Kreitzer nature center. Yesterday, Larry found a little turtle on the pool cover. He rescued the little fellow and, since we were going to our daughter's house for Mother's Day dinner, we took him along. He was the hit of the night with our two little granddaughters. There was nothing about him all that was slow. Every time we took him out of the bowl he took off in escape mode.

We had a little debate about his family background. Larry insisted he was a baby snapping turtle. I said he didn't look anything like a snapping turtle and insisted he was a baby painted turtle. After looking up the two species on the internet the vote went for painted turtle. He had the yellow striped markings on his neck, an orange undershell, and yellow spots on his face. The photo is a little too dark to see his colorful markings, but he definitely did NOT look like a baby snapping turtle.

Now, THIS is a baby snapping: longer tail, bumpier shell - definitely a little more sinister looking. We do have snapping turtles at Camp Kreitzer. One huge one (probably ten pounds at least) migrated from the pond next door into our yard and hissed at us when Larry tried to pick him up with a shovel and return him over the fence. We decided to let him find his own way back.

Snappers can grow up to about 35 pounds and even larger if overfed. At Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, the snappers were eating the baby ducklings. They are definitely carnivores.

So much for our reptiles, my favorite Camp Kreitzer critters (well, tied with the bees) are the bluebirds. We have a pair who have decided to nest in a little birdhouse outside my office window. It's not an official sized bluebird box, but they don't seem to mind. They are building a nest and are back and forth all day with materials. I look forward to seeing the little birds arrive and fledge.

Occasionally, the daddy perches on my feeder stand to pose for a picture. Considering that the photo is taken through a screened window, I think it's pretty clear. I am always happy to pause in my work to admire him. This morning he paused there for breakfast as he ate a little worm of some kind. Yum!

Today is bee feeding day at Camp Kreitzer although it's chilly and breezy so we'll wait awhile until the temp hits the high (an unseasonally cool 60 degrees) before we lift the lid. Poor bees, the spring has definitely not been ideal for them.

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