Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turkey Hunting

Back in December of last year, we had to send in our spring turkey hunting application. This year, Mr. Johnson decided to choose the early second season which started on Monday of this week. Since he's retired now, he's been able to go out hunting each day, but Wednesday was the only day I had off work, so I spent the morning in the turkey blind. I heard several turkeys gobbling all around me, but apparently they weren't interested in these attractive decoys set up outside my blind.Because I've done enough turkey hunting to know that the birds don't always cooperate, I brought along a book and some knitting, so the morning definitely wasn't wasted!

The only live bird that came close to my blind was this American Robin.

Shortly before it was time to leave, I left the blind and took a little stroll. I spotted this little sparrow who really didn't want to be photographed, so I'm not sure of its identity.....maybe a Chipping Sparrow? (Thanks to Hap from New Hope who ID'd this bird as a Swamp Sparrow.)

When we were setting up the blinds last Sunday, I spent quite a bit of time sitting at the edge of this little pond (a vernal pool?) watching the turtles and listening to frogs. Because I know turtles like basking on logs in a pond, I found a big branch and dragged it into the pond for the turtles and sure enough, when I walked over there Wednesday morning, I saw 2 turtles dive off the log when they saw me approaching.

When I visited this pond on Sunday, I could see that there were at least 4 turtles in the water, so I decided to step back away from the edge of the pond to see if the turtles would show themselves again. After a few minutes, turtle heads began popping out of the water. The first one I saw with this small Painted Turtle. I think these were the turtles that had been basking on the log. They're really pretty, aren't they?

I saw this big turtle at the edge of the other side of the pond. If there are any turtle experts reading this post, can you ID this turtle? I don't have any turtle field guides at home (I think I need to get one though!) but when I googled "turtle ID" I was thinking this one looks an awful lot like a Smooth Softshell Turtle.
Here's another look. It was big! I'm guessing the turtle's shell was at least 10 inches long. I think Smooth Softshelled Turtles are kind of rare in Minnesota, so it would be really neat if that's what this is.

Here's that Painted Turtle again, thinking about crawling back up onto the log.....

And here's another big turtle head that surfaced. I never saw any parts of its shell, but got 2 different looks at its head and I'm thinking this is probably a Common Snapping Turtle.
Here's the other look at this turtle's head.
Anybody have any thoughts on this turtle ID? Is it possible to have these 3 different kinds of turtles living together in the same small pond? And once this pond dries up in the hot days of summer, where will these turtles go? There's a small river nearby, but I think turtles like ponds better, don't they?

We're turkey hunting at a new farm this year and they have beef and dairy cattle here, with the added bonus of lots of cute little calves. This guy's pretty handsome, don't you think?

"Dude, wait for me! I got really short legs!"

These 2 were sound asleep in the sun.
I managed to get a few pets across the fence before they woke up enough to run away. Their fur is soft as a puppy when they're little like this.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I think that looks like a Smooth Soft-shell Turtle too! Neat!

Such cute little calves...
Did you want to bring one home? Now that Mr. Johnson is retired, maybe he needs a hobby? Calf raising?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ruthie,
I'm pretty sure the sparrow is a
Swamp Sparrow. The Softshell is
a bit hard for me, but I'll take
stab at it. It looks like a Smooth
but also appears to have spiny
protrusions on the front of the
carapace that a Smooth doesn't
have. Could just be an illusion
from lighting (?). Indeed, the
Smooth Softshell is not common in
MN, having a range of counties
associated with large rivers (like
Mississippi, Minnesota & St.Croix).
On the other hand, the Spiny Soft-
shell is quite common, being seen
in almost every county in the
south half of the state all the
way up to north of Mille Lacs. It
could be a Smooth Softshell, but
the odds lean toward Spiny Soft-
shell. You have to get the "Field
Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians
of Eastern & Central N.A." by
Roger Conant. Two others I would
recommend for your library are:
"Reptiles and Amphibians of MN"
by W.J.Breckenridge (1944), and
"Amphibians & Reptiles Native to
MN" by Oldfield & Moriarty (1994).
Hope I have helped some.
Hap in New Hope

Jayne said...

I love how when you go turkey hunting, you seem to find so much more than the turkeys! That is a pretty big turtle there. :c) I love seeing all the little calves this time of year too. We have lots of farms around here and I see them every day on my way to work.

Anonymous said...

I loved all your nature pictures. If the turkeys aren't gobbling look for something else and you found a lot to look at. The turtle pictures are fascinating, I don't know much about them.


RuthieJ said...

Hi Lynne,
I'm going to go with Hap's ID of a Spiny Softshell turtle on this one. Even though it's not rare, it's still a really cool looking turtle!
Those calves were really cute. I just loved being able to get close enough to pet them and rub their ears!

Hi Hap,
Thanks for your ID on Swamp Sparrow -- checked all my lists and that's a LIFER for me! Woo-Hoo!
Thanks for the help on the turtle and advice on good field guides for my future turtle IDs. I now know what my next book purchase will be!

Hi Jayne,
I think turkey hunting is really hard because they're so unpredictable. So now our season has ended without a turkey in the freezer (for the 5th year in a row!) And even though that's disappointing, there really couldn't be a nicer time of year to get out in nature and see what's going on (plus the chance to pet baby calves!)

Thanks Mom. I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. Didn't see as many birds as usual since we hunted this earlier season, but it was fun seeing the turtles which I've never had the chance to watch before.

Geothermal Heat Pumps said...

How cute ! I think you are a nature + animal lover....keep it up...Geothermal Heat Pumps!

Mel said...

Lovely turtles!!

Online shops said...

Those photos are priceless. Wonderful!