In a previous Journal entry (Explore the Wild Journal, July 1-15) I mentioned having seen a Stinkpot, or Eastern Musk Turtle, in the Wetlands. I also mentioned that they’ve been known to climb trees, as high as 6 feet up. On August 3rd I saw one in a Willow about 50 feet off the Wetlands Overlook (image below). However, this little turtle was only about 3 feet above the water’s surface.
I saw a young Snapping Turtle (4-5 inches from front to back of shell) hurrying along the bottom and through the aquatic vegetation of the Wetlands as if on some urgent business. A few days later, while standing at the same vantage point on the boardwalk in front of the main Black Bear Overlook, I saw a large individual doing just the opposite. No hurry here. In two hours time it had moved perhaps ten feet! Out of sight, its presence revealed by the subtle movement of the vegetation and tiny air bubbles rising up from below. Occasionally the turtle stretched out its long neck and took a deep breath of air, its massive head poking up through the vegetation. Its nostrils alone breaking the water’s surface.
There have been so many young Bullfrogs floating out in the water off of the boardwalk that it’s no wonder that the Museum’s rather healthy population of Northern Water Snakes has been particularly active lately. I’ve received many reports from Museum staff and guests of snakes stalking the frogs. I’ve also witnessed it myself. They’ve put on quite a show. I even saw one chase after a small Yellow-bellied Turtle. Turtles can move rather quickly when they feel the need!
Following the morning showers of August 10, Green Treefrogs of all sizes seemed to be everywhere in the vegetation along the north side of the Wetlands. Many Museum guests got to see the frogs, even a few “brown” Green Treefrogs. Days before, I plucked one of these brown-colored Green Treefrogs from the Sailboat Pond after a Museum guest spied it swimming on the bottom of the pond. I’ve only seen young “brown” Green Treefrogs, no adults.