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.
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.
Tonight I'm supposed to have the Observatory open for a public "stargazing" event. Actually, we're scheduled to look at the Moon and the planet Jupiter. Both of those objects look great in the grand old telescope. Unfortunately it is cloudy and rainy and prospects appear poor that we'll be able to look at either the Moon or the planet. If we must cancel, we must but this will be three months in a row that we've canceled due to weather or sky conditions! It gets frustrating for all concerned after a while! I suppose, on the "up" side, it creates a pent-up desire and appreciation on the part of our visitors. Still, serial cancellations are not good for your reputation even if the reasons for canceling are not your fault! In a few hours we'll see how it really turns out.
This day we did our usual provisioning. On our way for groceries we spotted an Eastern Box Turtle trundling along on the concrete median separating four lanes of speedy traffic. Fortunately we were able to stop safely, pack the beautiful creature into the car, and whisk him off to a new and hopefully safer home in the nearby Metropark. (Sorry, no photo! I should have had my camera with me.) Long ago I would have wanted to keep him as a pet but not nowadays. I have to believe he has a much better chance at a long and happy life where we left him than where we found him! I smiled as I watched the turtle moving away through the leaf litter of the woods. After a quick shop at Heinen's we dropped our goods at home and took a trip out to the Fairlawn shopping district. We were to look for digital TV converter boxes for Her mother and a few food items at the Mustard Seed Market. Lunch at Panera Bread was excellent with entertainment provided by Mother Nature in the form of a downpour — entertaining if you're enjoying warm soup at a dry table! We didn't buy a converter since we've not heard of any of the manufacturers! At least we now know what stores have what boxes and we have plenty of time to make a choice.
While doing a few light chores I had occasion to go outdoors. It had been raining and the humidity was sky-high (see above… sky high!?) leaving flowers and leaves with beads of rain sparkling in the muted sunshine. There, amongst the other gems, was a Japanese beetle. I know, I know, they're considered a pest. Quite a few "bad" things, however, have a beauty about them and the Japanese beetle with its iridescent shell is one of them. Looking the beetle up on Wikipedia, I did learn one interesting fact about them… Japanese beetles have a curious, identifying defense: they lift their hind legs up in the air, even when simply approached. These hind legs are spiny, and the behavior is probably intended to ward off predators. By George if our little bug didn't raise its spiny legs in protest as I pushed the camera ever closer to its tiny body!