Well, despite Parker’s antics that I described in detail yesterday, I did not don a disguise after all. Instead, the high dew points and humidity made me subtract clothing – I shed two layers and I was still warm. Slowly, these past two days, we’ve inched back to the uncomfortably warm weather again, but I won’t whine about it since Florence trumps ALL weather at this time.
I do my best thinking while walking back and forth to the Park, and, except for watching out for cars and uneven pavement, most days I just let my mind be a blank canvas as I walk along and enjoy the sights along the way. As you know, once I’m down at the Park, my furry pals pre-empt any woolgathering on my part.
Today was no different. I did my three loops, and, at the tail end of the trail, fellow walker Mike called out to me: “Hey, you missed the chicken hawk – it was back near the beginning of the trail, same as before.” I sighed and told Mike I’ve been scanning the skies ever since the big hawk swooped down on Stubby back in early August, just minutes after I fed him. Luckily, Stubby ran under the picnic table in the pavilion and escaped. I know I will rethink putting small apples out for my little buddies when they are cheap and plentiful, as I usually do each Fall, because I don’t want the squirrels being sitting ducks for the hawks – perhaps I’ll hide them under the picnic tables. In the second loop I saw Stubby and Midnight, then Parker again before I left the Park, so, in counting noses, I know those three were present and accounted for. I worry about all the squirrels getting nabbed by a hawk. I can’t really I.D. most of the squirrels – there are way too many of them, and, finally the youngsters are coming around and are not so timid as before, probably taking their cue from the adult squirrels who are similarly in hunting-and-gathering-mode.
It dawned on me enroute to the Park, that perhaps that hole I saw adjacent to the turtle nest might have been the escape route for the hatchlings. I’ve been following the larger parks on Facebook this Summer to check out local nature events. Last night, a post by Crosswinds Marsh Wetland Interpretive Preserve about turtle hatchlings made me stop and ponder that post, then take a screenshot of it.
I wondered if these baby snapping turtles, just the size of a quarter, did indeed climb out of that small hole, and not the big nest area hole, to make a beeline to the nearby Creek? Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that before?
So, I went past this morning, peered into the hole to get an idea how deep it was, but I couldn’t tell and didn’t want to disturb anything. I decided to reach out to Crosswinds and see if that might have been their exit route. When I got online, I sent a picture of the nest as well as the adjacent hole and an enlargement of the small hole. I said I wrote a blog about walking and many people were anticipating the “birth” and growing anxious.
Soon I received a nice reply from Jennifer, which I’m going to share, because it was full of facts and since so many of you have been interested in the turtle hatchlings.
When I thanked Jennifer, I told her I knew those eggs had to be incubated properly due to our very hot Summer, so she responded to me with this turtle tidbit:
“Yes, with this hot Summer, there were probably a lot of female turtles coming out of that nest! Most turtles have temperature dependent sex determination – hotter incubation produces females (usually those eggs at the top of the nest) and cooler incubation produces males (usually the eggs at the bottom).”
So the takeaway here is “girls rule!”
Perhaps there are still turtle eggs in the nest, so, I will keep my eyes peeled for these hatchlings. I’d better still watch where I step or put up a sign “Turtle Crossing” … just imagine these quarter-sized critters streaking across the perimeter path!
P.S. – The header picture for this post is a card I got from my friend Carol several years ago. I liked the verse and the picture and have it in a small frame where I can see it every day.