Spring Peeper out and about before hibernating for the winter.
Relishing the last of these golden days, we took advantage of Sunday’s delightfully beautiful weather with a hike around Eastern Point. Several female Yellow-rumped Warblers were spotted feeding on seed heads, a lone turtle was basking on a sun-warmed rock, the Harbor Seals were lolling about, and a tiny Spring Peeper was spied in the fallen leaves.
You can see why these sweet birds are called Yellow-rumped Warblers. Note the little flash of yellow on the rump of the warbler flying in the background.
I laughed out loud when looking through photos from several days ago, not realizing that at the time when taking snapshots of these beautiful Painted Turtles at Niles Pond they were not only basking, but also rubbernecking, and mostly all in the same direction. The turtles were on a rock adjacent to the Snapping Turtle (below), which at first glance looked like two rocks, a smaller stone (its head) and a large stone (body).
The Snapping Turtle was about a foot long, unlike the Snapping Turtle furtively gliding through the murky water several weeks ago at Henry’s Pond. The stealthy one in the last photo was huge and appeared to be just shy of two feet!!
Turtles are ectotherms, relying on sunlight to warm and regulate their body temperature.
In case you were wondering, where do turtles go in winter?
The Eastern Painted Turtle is our most common turtle and this beauty was found at Niles Pond, crossing the road heading towards one of several little babbling brooks that flow towards the pond. Perhaps it was planning to hibernate there as it was the last day of October.
Turtles are an ectotherm, which means that their body temperature mirrors the temperature of the surrounding environment, whether pond water or sunlit rock. During the fall they find a comfy spot in the mud at either a pond or stream and burrow in. The Painted Turtle’s metabolism slows dramatically and it won’t usually come up for air until spring, although even during hibernation they require some slight bit of oxygen, which they take in through their skin. Painted Turtles do move around a bit in the mud during the winter but do not travel far and do not move very swiftly.
The female Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) deposits her eggs in a hole, or nest, which she has excavated with her hind legs. She lays between three and 14 eggs. Depending on soil and air temperatures, the eggs incubate unattended in the soil for 65 to 80 days. Sex of the hatchlings is determined by the temperatures the eggs were exposed to in the nest. Warmer temperatures produce females. Cooler temperatures produce males. Some eggs are deposited close to the surface and others are laid first and are deeper in the soil. The slight differences in position in the nest produce enough variances in temperature to ensure that both males and females are produced from the same nest.
Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts, June 2013 with Fujifilm XE-1.