On a photo walk in the Medina County Parks’ Buckeye Woods Reservation, we happened upon a medium-sized snapping turtle. The turtle had hauled itself out of the water near a small pavilion at the edge of a wetland area; it was likely a female who was on an egg-laying mission. We shot some photos, including this one, and went on our way. After a relatively brief hike, we passed the shelter just in time to spy the turtle trundling back down the bank and clumsily enter the shallow water. This intimate portrait was shot with a long telephoto lens: you don’t mess with snapping turtles!
Visitors were amazed as they watched a large snapping turtle slowly make its way across the paved path at the Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve on Lake Erie. The turtle was likely a female on an egg-laying mission. The reptile, watched by several people every step of her way, eventually made it across the path, and into some low brush before tumbling, end-over-end, into an area of shallow water below. Shown here, an unidentified woman moves in for a close-up using her smartphone’s camera. I used a 200mm lens.
We visited Kendall Lake in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park this afternoon. I wasn’t holding out hope for much to photograph but our little nature walk presented a fine assortment of opportunities, many of which were captured. Among the sights was a very large snapping turtle fellow visitors pointed out. The reptile stayed beneath the surface of the lake during the entire time we watched, occasionally stretching its neck to put up its periscope nostrils and eyes long enough to breathe. As pretty sunfish swam all around the potential predator, the turtle snapped not once. Following a park trail, we recorded woodland scenes of weathered wood and lush foliage in the understory. It was a very relaxing walk following a period of several stressful days and was a most welcome respite. On the opposite end of the lake, a spot of sunlight fell on slender, colored leaves floating in the shadows … a lovely and tranquil sight.
I visited the Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary of the Medina County Park System this afternoon, seeking the season’s first dragonflies. None were to be seen there. It was, however, a splendid afternoon for a little stroll around the grounds and it’s not like nothing else was worth looking at! The ponds were fairly still and alive with the ripples caused by likely thousands of water-striding insects milling about, doubtless seeking mates. The first lily pads floated, soaking up the day’s sunshine while others could be seen stretching up from beneath the surface. Wriggling amongst the reeds and algae near waters’ edge were hundreds of tadpoles, somehow sensing my presence and quickly hiding. And oh, what’s that, lying in wait for the careless passing fish or tadpole? A medium-sized snapping turtle sat in the mud, barely submerged and barely exposed. The pond may display quiet beauty above, but there’s danger below!
My dragonflies? Oh, they’re likely crawling around underwater in their nymph phase: a terrifying aquatic insect (if you’re a small critter they might find tasty) and will emerge in due course, um, to stalk the skies.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park was developed around the Ohio & Erie Canal which shadows the Cuyahoga River within its great valley. There remain relics of the great canal project of the first half of the 1800s. The one relic still in daily use is the towpath — where mules provided the “horsepower” tugging canal boats loaded with cargo and passengers north and south between the Ohio River and Lake Erie. Today the towpath is a popular trail used by runners, hikers, and cyclists for recreation. The canal, for the most part, has become a series of longitudinal ponds or slow-moving creeks dug by men but claimed now by nature.
When I first arrived at the Ira Road Trailhead and walked the short path from parking lot to towpath, I looked to the side and at the still water in the canal. Near the bank was something… a submerged stick? a frog’s head? a turtle’s head? No. Oh, but yes! That thick stump was the head of a snapping turtle, doubtless waiting for some careless animal to stray within reach! I shot a couple of photos before the monster >>blup<< pulled its head beneath the surface and dove for the bottom.
A little farther on I heard a rustling in the reeds, looked and spotted a young (by size) muskrat energetically swimming around in the canal finding and nibbling on, well, something or other. The rodent seemed unafraid of my presence though I don’t think it had learned to look up much. It swam this way and that, stopping for a nibble, then out and around again, and, like the turtle, <<blup<< underwater.
Of course, no naturalized pond would be complete without frogs and turtles and there were plenty to be seen and heard… one could hear the frogs, anyway.
North from the trailhead is the Beaver Marsh area. The canalway apparently either skirted or opened into that wet area. The expanse is now densely packed with aquatic plants and tall reeds and home to all manner of life. The reeds teem with Redwinged Blackbirds, Great Blue Herons (if they brave attacks from the Redwings) come there to fish, and swallows fill the air apparently scooping multitudes of insects to feed themselves and their young families.
Long ago “canal life” probably best referred to the lives and livelihoods affected by the big canal system project. That transportation system carried freight traffic from 1827 to 1861 when the railroads made it obsolete. Now, more than 150 years later, canal life means something more like life supported by the canal — the plants and animals that depend upon that construction for their lives. I can’t think of a better end for such a thing.