Category: Turtles

Highlighting Nature Photography Day: Diversity of Wildlife at Boomer Lake

The North American Nature Photography Association designated June 15 to be Nature Photography Day.

Red-eared sliders swimming in Boomer Lake

Water snake gliding through the waters at Boomer Lake

Their first ‘Nature Photography Day’ was back in June 2006, and their goal is to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and through the use of the camera advance the ’cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally’.

Hybird Baltimore and Bollock’s Oriole spotted in Boomer Lake Park

They (the North American Nature Photography Association) also run a photography contest every year marking the holiday as well. This year the challenge started on June 4 and ends tonight (June 15). You are able to enter multiple nature photographs throughout the week and a half that the contest runs–I’m sad that I only saw the contest this morning, but one can either download the app (iNaturalist) to your phone or sign up on the site (iNaturalist) to submit pictures for the contest. Though even after the contest ends–you can still share pictures through the site.

Cedar Waxing in a cedar tree

I will be setting up an account via the site (and deciding when to also put in an application to join the North American Nature Photography Association) some time this afternoon, so that I can share a few pictures that I’ve taken over the past week and half (Luckily my last walk up at Boomer Lake was on the 4th).

Double-crested Cormorant spotted at Boomer Lake Park, Stillwater OK

I’d decided years ago that nature photography was going to be one of the photography ‘sub-areas’ that I’d focus on for several reasons: 1) I enjoy being outdoors and exploring, 2) I like to ‘look’ for various animals (such as birds or insects), and 3) it is almost always a ‘free’ thing to do when exploring new areas.

So here are some of the nature photographs that I’ve taken over the past few months that I would rank among my favorites so far for the second quarter of 2021:

Nymph on an wildflower

As I was walking back across the bridge, I noticed this little grasshopper nymph sitting in the wildflower. Since I’m not an entomologist, I’m not sure what nymph stage this insect was at or if it is even a grasshopper.

Possible Orchid Oriole spotted at Boomer Lake Park

I spotted this bird on one of my walks, and I think based on the red flank that it was possibly a male orchid oriole.

Green Heron preening itself at Boomer Lake

Just about a hundred yards or so after spotting the possible Orchid Oriole, I spotted a green heron preening itself in one of the covers. Also captured in the picture was a grackle and a couple of turtles sunning themselves.

Two scissor-tailed flycatchers sitting in a cottonwood tree

And finally–the state bird (the scissor-tailed flycatcher) is in the area again for a few months. This beautiful flycatcher is a resident from about late April through late August/early September (though sometimes still spotted in late September or early October).

So these were just a small number of pictures that I’ve taken over the past two months since I’ve been trying to get back into at least doing a monthly walk at Boomer Lake. Now that summer is here–I will probably only be doing a single walk a month at Boomer (unless really nice temps hit), so I will also use the backyard and creek area as inspiration for practicing nature photography as well.

Reference for Nature Photography Day: www.nanpa.org/events/nature-photography-day

How are you spending nature photography day?

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Hiking the Trails at Devil’s Den State Park: Throwback Travels

Since it looks like summer is here to stay, I’m slowly catching up on things. It is amazing how much more you can get done when it is too hot and humid to be outside (I think we have a heat advisory through tomorrow night).

So, I decided that I would try to see how many #ThursdayThrowbackTravel posts I could generate this summer and fall–both as blog posts and as pages under the travel tab.

The first entry for the ‘series’ is looking back at a trip we took to Arkansas a little over four years ago, when we visited Devil’s Den State Park. The park is located probably halfway between Fayetteville and Fort Smith within the Ozark National Forest.

The park offers three main outdoor activities: hiking (or walking), mountain bike riding, and horseback riding (as long as you supply the bike or horse). We went for the hiking/walking aspect. They also offer either camping or cabins for rent.

Cabin rental within Devil’s Den State Park

During our three to four day stay; at least half the day was spent out on different trails (that were either easy or moderate in terms fo difficulty–so not that much climbing or stairs involved).

There are approximately 13 trails within the park, with one or two being set aside strictly for mountain biking. The others you can hike, and on most of them–you also need to watch out for people on mountain bikes or horses.

Deer spotting

Taking these kind of trips take me right to one of my ‘happy places’–being out in nature. I enjoy trying to catch glimpses of different wildlife, seeing how many different birds I can spot, and taking numerous wildflower photos.

While the world is slowly opening back up–I’ve been slowly thinking of trying to plan a trip for sometime between 2022-2024 (nice time frame, right), though I know it may not be an outdoor trip (I prefer taking nature based trips with other people, safety in numbers), but possibly a trip to a new city/state or even country–if I’m feeling up to air travel (will have to see how things play out pandemic wise).

What is your favorite state park to visit? Then where is your favorite hiking trail?

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Reflecting on World’s Ocean Day: Creatures seen in the wild

Oceans cover approximately 70% of the earth’s surface (with the five ocean basins being the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic (newest one to be recognized)).

Aside from covering majority of the surface of the earth, they also produce ~50% of our oxygen (cyanobacteria and plankton), absorb ~30% of the carbon dioxide produced, and serve as both the main source of protein for over a seventh of the world’s population (over 1 billion people), and also as a source of income–~40 million people are to be employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

But we’ve also depleted 90% of the big fish population, and (through global warming) have destroyed/killed about half the coral reefs (coral reef bleaching occurs when the coral expel the symbiotic cyanobacteria/plankton living within it due to ‘overheating’).

June 8 has been set aside as ‘World’ Ocean Day’ for several years now. Each year there is a theme for the day, and this year the theme is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’. In addition to the launch of ‘A decade of challenges to [reach] the Sustainable Development Goal [#] 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources’ by 2030.

I’ve always been fascinated by the oceans–especially the number of creatures living under the waves. I even contemplated sutdying marine biology in college (either undergrad or grad)–but didn’t have the grades for a full scholarship at any school that offered teh degrees, so I’ve decided that I could always become an ‘amateur marine biologist’.

I’ve been to the ocean(s) only an handful of times throughout my life. I don’t remember the trips to the beach when I was a toddler; therefore the first time I was in the ‘ocean’ was in college on a class trip to Honduras and swimming in the Caribbean Sea.

Since that trip, I’ve been (back) to the Atlantic Ocean (when I was in Boston for my first postdoc), the Pacific Ocean (when I went to Hawaii after passing my qualifying exams in grad school), and the Gulf of Mexico on a family trip years ago.

I’ve managed see some wildlife and get pictures, and they include:

Green Sea Turtle swimming in Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaii

Currently the only time I’ve seen a sea turtle in the wild was when I went to Hawaii back in 2009. I stayed on the island of Hawaii, and on Hilo Bay, so I would walk out and see what type of wildlife I could spot. The green sea turtle was present quite a few days, and according to some locals, if I’d gotten up a little earlier I would have also spotted the sting ray as well swimming through the bay.

I also managed to get some picture of some of the smaller marine fish as well on the trip:

Possibly the Moorish Idol swimming in Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaii

My little handheld digital camera is waterproof to a certain depth, so once I spotted some fish I tried to stick the camera in and get some pictures (sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t). I would like to go back to Hawaii (and the Caribbean) to snorkel and get some more pictures of life under the waves.

When I was out in Boston, I managed to get a small handful of pictures of various marine life:

Whale watching

I went on several whale watching cruises, and the best pictures actually came from the second trip. I think this was a humpback slightly breaching the surface. I would like to go on another cruise (especially since I have a slightly better camera), as I’ve noticed when the aquarium posts pictures, other wildlife has also been spotted (large fish and even a shark or two).

Moon Jellyfish in the Boston Harbor

Since I also enjoyed walking along the harbor–one afternoon I spotted some jellyfish swimming in the harbor. Luckily I was able to get a couple of decent pictures of them.

Finally, when we were down at South Padre Island, Texas years ago I managed to get a couple pictures of various invertebrates in the bay:

Nautilus in the bay

One was a semi-close up of a young nautilus (a very ancient mollusk family–basically considered ‘living fossils’).

Nautilus and other hermit crabs in the bay

Here is a zoomed out picture showing the nautilus and other hermit crabs in the bay that evening.

I would love to get back to the ocean and snorkel (having either gotten contact lens and a good snorkel mask or just a good snorkel mask that could fit over my glasses–since I’m ‘blind’ as a bat without them), but also see other wildlife (from a good safe distance–so a cruise or boat ride) such as orcas, dolphins, or even a shark or two.

What marine animal(s) have you spotted in the wild?

Reference for world ocean day: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ocean-day

No Comments FishnatureoutdoorsPhotographyRandom Celebration DaysreptilestravelTurtles

Snapping at the Photography Challenge Day 2: The Snapping Turtle

Today’s entry into the photography challenge is the common snapping turtle. Since I’m still self-isolating due to the pandemic, majority of my photography has been done around the house, about three and half weeks ago I noticed that we had a ‘visitor’ in the creek bed—a snapping turtle.

Someone came wandering up the creek bed

Now this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen them around the area, after we first moved in we actually had one on the porch (that was fun—we had to enter and exit through the garage until it decided to leave).

It looks like this one had decided to move up the creek bed from the flood plains for a while, either looking for water, a place to build its nest (though I have no idea if this snapper is a male or a female) or possibly something to eat.

Even though they are large turtles—they can move fairly quickly when they want to—I wandered over the to fence every so often to see if it was still there, and when I noticed it was gone I went out front to see if I could notice it further up the creek bed and I couldn’t—I assume that it decided to chill under the ‘bridge’ for awhile before moving further up the creek to either the little reservoir pond or Sanborn ‘lake’.

They are actually only combative when they are out of the water–otherwise they just bury themselves in the sediment at the bottom of the lake, river, stream, or wherever they’re at. When they’re out of the water and looking for a nesting site, or just moving between different bodies of water and they feel threatened–that is when they ‘snap’ towards people. While not visible here–they can extended their heads and neck quite far.

Now I’m wondering if the largish turtle I saw a year or so ago on a walk around Boomer Lake wasn’t a snapping turtle making its way back down the hill into the water.

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Photography Challenge Day 185: Back on track, and a soft-shelled turtle

Well, it’s time to try to get back into a picture sharing mood. The weather is slowly starting to cool, so that means hopefully I will be able to do a walk on the weekends (hopefully both mornings). I may also try to do some architecture/building photography as well this fall/winter (something to switch things up a little).

I realized this weekend, I do enjoy photography—it is both calming, and exciting (as one doesn’t know what type of wildlife they’ll be seeing on a walk). As much as I would love to walk in the woods—the ones closest to the house are on private property, and it is still tick season—so currently it’s a no go (but there is always trips in the future to different parks).

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the soft-shelled turtle. The shells of these turtles are mostly leathery and semi-pliable and this allows them to move quicker than other turtles. I had managed to get a couple of pictures of the soft-shelled turtle earlier this summer, but none of them got all the characteristics of the turtle in one shot—the pointed nose, the smooth shell, and the webbed feet.

Soft-shelled turtle sunning itself at Boomer Lake

I have no idea of this is a male or female soft-shelled turtle, because when I moved slightly closer to get another picture it slid off the log and into the water. Though since it does look like a large turtle—it could very well be a female, as that is one of the main ways of differentiating between the sexes—the female is larger than the male.

As we start heading into the fall and winter months, the turtles are going to be going dormant until late winter/early spring, but hopefully I will still be able to get a few more pictures of various turtles at the lake sunning themselves. I would still like to get a picture of some of the larger red-eared sliders that I know are living up around the lake.

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