Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nature's Tragedies

My husband called me out of my office to check something outside. He led me out by the fig trees to a small carefully excavated hole.  "What is this?" he wanted to know.

There were white fragments. At first glance I wondered if they were crawdad pincers.


Upon closer examination they were small, brittle eggshells. Henry wanted to know what the was the story here.  We wondered if this was evidence of turtles hatching out or what. He had his phone on him so I asked him to take pictures.

I have a Facebook/blogger friend that I thought would know the answer.  Naturalist writer and artist,  Julie Zickefoose, is someone I thought would be able to read and interpret this nature story. Sure enough she wrote back that it WAS a turtle nest that had been dug out by a skunk or raccoon. Since I've seen a raccoon in the back yard recently, I'm guessing he is the culprit. An additional email confirmed that it was either a box turtle nest or a snapper turtle nest - probably the snapper turtle. When baby turtles hatch and leave the nest they only leave a very small hole - not one with piles of dirt and tailings.

Julie says that every time she sees a turtle laying eggs, she covers the nesting area with a cage to protect the turtle eggs so they can hatch. I'm not sure we've ever seen a turtle laying eggs although we see them regularly on the pond.

I suspect we will try to be more observant during turtle egg laying season in late spring and summer.  I also realized that I need to work on my turtle identification of the turtles I see in and around my pond.

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