Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We tend to think of Spring as the time for wildlife babies, yet now is the season when we really start to see them.  I had thought I'd save this post until the cardinal eggs in the Rose of Sharon bush next to our back door hatched but, sadly, they aren't going to emerge. Mama cardinal sat on those eggs for weeks in the extreme heat and the pouring rain. I fear the eggs may have cooked despite her elaborate efforts to provide shade and air conditioning. They should have hatched by the two-week mark. She hung on for at least three weeks, then disappeared. Three speckled eggs remain in the nest. Now, I'll never know if one or more of the eggs which varied slightly in color were cowbird eggs snuck in there when she wasn't on the nest.

The deer, of course, have fared better. I've seen two fawns--one complete with Bambi spots--and heard many alarm noises from the does across the creek as they warned of impending danger (usually me walking down to the garden).

Rabbits abound and I seem to have made friends with one particularly handsome bunny. Well, maybe friends is too strong a term, but the muscular little guy doesn't seem nearly so jumpy as the others when I cross its path going back and forth to see the buffs.

Several of the wild turkey eggs survived the ravages of raccoon raids and now we have two female wild turkeys who have teamed up to make the rounds with their little ones. One set of three babies has just learned how to fly (and are much more graceful at it than are the adults) and the other set is still strictly terrestrial.

This week brought a new animal to our attention. While we haven't seen any babies yet, we did see an adult female eastern spiny softshell turtle in the creek. When a shiny rock in the creek kept disappearing and reappearing despite no change in the water level, I got the binoculars out and got a great reward: a view of a type of turtle I'd never seen before. It has a very flat and spotted shell--noticeably different from most of the turtles we see around here (e.g., box, snapping, and sliders)--and a snout that narrows dramatically at the tip. Apparently, this turtle is found in many states, but the river basin of the French Broad (of which our creek is a part) is the only place in NC where they are found. From what I've read they are quite shy but do have powerful jaws and claws which they are not shy about employing if you try to catch one. I'm quite happy to observe from the window seat and watch her bask in the sun on the sandy creek bank.

An indigo bunting sighting along the driveway added a bit of color to this week's wildlife. More to come, I'm sure, but another thunderstorm is approaching, so it's probably time to shut down the computer before it's shut down for me.

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