When I was on the boardwalk watching warblers at Crane Creek, warbler guru Jon Dunn, who was there leading a group, came running up to me and told me to come quickly, there was a photo op. My first thought was that it must be some rare warbler. He led me down the boardwalk to where a number of birders and photographers were huddled. Then I saw this:
Snapping Turtles are impressive from any angle, and this one, possibly a female looking for a nest site, certainly was a show stopper. Enthusiastic observers tend to overestimate the size of snapping Turtles, but they do reach a length of 20 inches for their top shell and a weight of over 60 pounds.
Snappers are usually seen in the water, that's where we see them when we canoe on our pond and see their telltale snout sticking above the water. They leave the water only when moving to another pond, or egg-laying. Females venture from their ponds in spring, find a nest site, and deposit 20 to 30 (and sometime up to 80) ping pong like eggs. She then covers them, tamps down the earth, and returns to her pond.
Just goes to show, most birders are interested in all of nature.
Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2007