Sunday, May 30, 2010

A surprise visitor

 It has been another busy weekend, and unlike most of you, mine is ending all too soon.

Things started off quiet enough; I beat the Artist and the twins home, so Callie and I relaxed together on the front porch. I managed to balance a good book in one hand, (see my side bar), a tall glass of cold lemonade in the other hand and somehow still managed to pet Callie's head too. An odd feat but anything is possible on a Friday night.

Shortly after, the rest of the gang arrived home, and while the Artist and I tried to decide our plans for the rest of the evening, we found ourselves shouting over the sound of Callie barking. Normally a quick word or two is all that's needed and she settles herself down but this time there was no relief. We should know by now that when Callie barks there's a reason. Sometimes it's the neighbour a mile down the road walking in his front yard (the nerve!) and sometimes it's a leaf blowing in the wind. Take it or leave it, movement is her game and barking is her middle name. We couldn't ask for a better protector of the old farmhouse. 

Frustrated at not being able to have a conversation, the Artist decided to check on Callie. Within a few seconds, he was running towards the back while calling out, "there's a turtle back here!"
Last year we saw quite a few turtles sunning themselves on the banks of the pond on a hot day. They were 5-6 inches in length. What one would expect in a pond our size, or what I would expect anyways. So imagine my surprise when I saw Callie leaping circles around this...
Just to give you an idea of size, here he or she is in front of the Artist.
Don't worry, he was only using the twig to slow her down for a moment so I could take a photo. 
She was moving much faster then the well known tortoise of the children's fable.
His or her shell was over a foot long. 
We suspect it may be a female looking for a place to lay her eggs. 

She headed for the crick that feeds the pond and then started to head away from the pond. She may have been slightly distracted by an excited pup running circles around her and it was hard to get said pup to settle down! Or the lady with the camera, who just wouldn't go away, might have also been a problem.

Eventually though, she found the pond and slid right in.
What kind of turtle is it? Well, our first thought was a Snapping Turtle, due to its spiny tail, however its back was smooth and it didn't snap at the twig or any of us. People we spoke to suggested either a Blanding Turtle or a Snapping Turtle. After a little research at the Toronto Zoo website, I discovered Blanding turtles have a distinctive yellow throat, which our little lady certainly did not have. She's definitely a Snapper and only the young ones have a spiny back, while the older ones have a smooth shell. 
So there you have it. There is a rather large Snapping turtle in our pond. 

Any thoughts of one day using the pond as a swimming hole have been completely dashed!

~Be well friends~


Deb said...

Gosh, it must have been roosting weekend for turtles! We found one of these crossing the road in front of our property on Saturday.

~from my front porch in the mountains~ said...

He is a biggie! Or she!

We had oodles of snapping turtles in our pond in Florida. We swam all the time in it. When we float in our inner-tubes they would "bump" us-I guess trying to figure out what it was.

They really won't bother you because you will scare them away under water when you are moving around..i.e. swimming!
But DO NOT begin feeding them. Then the problem begins and they will associate you with feeding time!
We always rescued them off the road. In Fl. they are EVERYWHERE trying to cross the road from one canal to another!
So you can safely swim. The fish will nibble on you though :)

Who needs 10 fingers and toes anyway!

xo, misha