Must be my week for finding turtle remains. This is the third set I have run across. Eastern box turtles are among my favorite beasts. I have a pictoral record of some twenty-five individual box turtles that live within a half-mile radius of my house. They are so beautiful, each with its own unique set of markings and individual personality. The turtle in this picture lived his life deep in the woods. It is nice to know that he didn't have to contend with the dangers of the highway. His shell was in nearly perfect condition and from his size I would say that he lived a long life. (And yes, it was a male as evidenced by the depression in the plastron.) Even in death he is a thing of beauty.
Too bad the pictures of the thorns didn't turn out -- this is one seriously robust vine. Getting caught up in a tangle of greenbriars is something you should experience for yourself -- the overall effect is like that of bathing a cat.
The barred owl (yep, that blurry thing in the middle of the picture) must have had a good laugh when I took this shot. We spotted the owl sitting in a tree right along the "road" we were traveling. It sat still as we pulled up alongside. It sat still as I rolled the window down. It sat still as I switched out my dead battery for a fresh battery. It sat still as I zoomed in and framed the shot. Then, just as I pressed the button...it took off! How do they know?
Yesterday was a busy day. We worked on clearing fire lines that dear Hurricane Isabel dropped trees on back in 2003. She did a thorough job of it -- we still have a lot of work to do before any prescribed burns can take place. The area we worked on yesterday is a stand of mature loblolly pines (not a plantation-type stand -- an actual, natural woodland). One day in the not too distant future perhaps a couple of red-cockaded woodpeckers might find it to their liking and move in. We can always hope.
Anyway, it was nice out and temps were in the forties. A nice change from the weather we have been having. I took my camera along (as always) and took a few pictures when I could. The two pictures below show some of the things that caught my eye. I love the little things...
This is an eastern box turtle carapace that has been gnawed by squirrels and other little woodland rodents. Gnawing on bone helps the rodent keep its teeth sharp and also provides some needed minerals.
There were otter out playing in the pond first thing this morning. Unfortunately, they were a little camera shy but they do seem to love this weather. More power to them! I like it too, up to a point. For instance, I don't mind walking in snow and ice -- but driving it? That's just plain crazy. Like a good little southerner, I fully intend to stay off the road until all the ice is gone.
With more nasty weather expected for this afternoon, I headed out early this morning to see if I could find any interesting tracks in the remaining snow. It was cold, with a freezing drizzle falling, but it was worth it. One of the things I love about snow is that it captures little snapshots of what goes on when we aren't looking. It is a lot of fun to find and follow a set of tracks left by some animal as it goes about the business of making its living. Today I was fortunate to find several sets of tracks. One set appeared to be that of a mink. I followed those tracks for quite some distance as the mink wandered along the icy shoreline, going in and out of the water.
In addition to the mink there were squirrel tracks along the pond's edge. A fox left tracks along a hiking trail -- he was probably after one of the many rabbits that left their tracks along this trail as well. I also followed the tracks of some sort of small rodent and a domestic cat.
When the freezing drizzle became freezing rain I got worried about my camera and headed home. This weather system is supposed to bring us a mixed bag of precipitation this weekend: sleet, freezing rain, snow, and just rain. Sounds lovely.
I seem to be a little more "one" with my computer today. Still having trouble getting pictures where I want them. Case in point, the picture of the eye should be in my profile -- alas, it is not. But that will be remedied eventually. Live and learn, blog and learn.
We have had our second snow in as many days...this has certainly been a January of sharp contrasts. The first two weeks were warm and springlike. I saw a cottonmouth sunning on January 3rd and the alligators were out and about as well. Bet all those reptilian types are hunkered down today.
This morning I walked from the house, through the woods, to the millpond. It was so beautiful -- my camera can't begin to do it justice.
Lots of ducks and geese on the pond today. The ice in the swamps must be making them move into the more open water of the pond. The prize sighting of the day was an adult bald eagle flying over the water. Other birds seen today include pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, golden crowned kinglets, juncos, fox sparrows, carolina wrens, cardinals, canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, pied-billed grebes, american widgeon, and red-shouldered hawk.
The only mammal signs I saw during my walk were some rabbit and deer tracks.
Web sprites, that must be what it is...an infestation of web sprites. I had hoped to post a picture or two today but it seems that is not going to happen. If and when my software and I begin to come to an understanding, I will return. But for now I choose to go outside -- it's cold, but at least no error pages will pop up to taunt me.