Turtles Everywhere!

Turtles make up one of the most interesting groups of reptiles. I seemed to find them everywhere I go fishing, especially since I moved to Tennessee. In this post I will show you several that decided to take my fish bait.

Some of the others I saw sitting around the lake or in the waterways nearby. One even traveled up to my yard to lay her eggs last Summer.

 

 

This unfortunate snapping turtle got snagged on my fishing lure as I brought it back to the shore. He wasn’t happy to be so rudely taken. After snapping and hissing, I was able to remove him with my hook pliers and set him free. This is just one of three snapping turtles that I have caught down at the lake so far. One of the others snapped out and jumped toward my camera and hit the lens. It got my attention and taught me to respect these aggressive turtles.

These turtles can grow to massive sizes. Below is a picture of one I saw in a stream-bed under a dam at Radnor Lake State Park in Brentwood, Tennessee. It was about three feet long.

Interestingly, the Snapping turtles are actually good fishermen. They actually use a lure, part of their tongue that looks like a worm. As they wave it in the water with their mouths open, along come fish trying to eat the worm. Snap!  Guess who becomes dinner?

Here are some more pictures of snapping turtles I caught since first publishing the first post. This snapper tried to bite me a couple of times. Needless to say, I moved quickly! I was able to flip the biggest one over and get some pictures of its belly. Notice also the long claws.

I caught one on chicken liver and the other on a hunk of bluegill. I was trying to catch a catfish. This big one is about two feet long.

 

 

 

Here are some more turtles. Notice that most of these are Red-eared sliders.

 

Time to lay some eggs.

The turtle below laid eggs under a tree in my front yard. It traveled about a quarter mile from the lake to my yard.

Can you see the area behind her? She dug a hole and carefully laid and buried the eggs.

 

Red-Eared Sliders

                 

Worms and cut up bluegill were too tempting to these turtles.

 

One day I caught seven turtles in just a couple hours. The picture (above right) with three turtles, shows three of the seven still on shore before I let them all go back into the lake.

Below is a softy!

One of the turtles was much different from the others. It was a soft-shelled turtle. The picture above shows the underside of a Soft-shelled turtle.

Keep Turtles Where They Belong!

Though most turtles spend most of their lives in the water, some types are more terrestrial, like the box turtles.  The majority of water turtles are the Red-eared sliders. Unfortunately many of these have been introduced into the environment by people with good intentions but a poor knowledge of the environment.

When I was a child, red-eared sliders were sold by the thousands to people wanting a cute pet. Practically every kid had one in a plastic container. What they didn’t tell you when you bought one was that they grow up and often outlive their owners. When the turtles got bigger and people didn’t like maintaining a suitable habitat for their pets, they took them to the nearest lake or stream and released them. This caused a lot of problems for the native turtles in those regions. Competition for food and space created a difficult situation for the natives. Unfortunately many of these species were threatened and some were completely wiped out in certain areas. Today there is an over-abundance of this species. Go to any park pond and you will probably see what I mean. The turtles are often stacked on top of each other on the logs in the pond and on the shore-line.

Turtles do serve a purpose in the areas you find them. They are the clean-up crew. They will eat dead and decaying fish, help control the insect population, and regulate the fish if there are too many of a given species.

Enjoy Them Where You Are!

  

When God created the turtles He designed them well for where they live. Their hard shells, ( for most turtles), provide great protection from predators who seek to eat them. When the enemy comes they just withdraw into their shells and hide until the threat passes. Many also have offensive weapons to use to drive off other animals or each other. The snapping turtles are probably the best example of this. They can literally snap off a broom handle with their powerful beaks. Turtles also give off warning hisses when they think someone or something is getting too close.

 

Below are a couple pictures from Texas of some large turtles that come up and sun-bathe on shore at my son’s house on Spring Lake.

 

 

Just Hanging Out In The Sun!

Notice that more than one species can occupy the same area. This big guy must be at the top of the pecking order. Turtles love to lay out in the sun to warm up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look For Turtles Near You.

Why not take some time to watch the turtles in your area. They have many interesting habits and are sure fun to watch while sitting lake-side and fishing. You may see a head pop up out of the lake when they come up for air. Look along the shore-line. They will often be sunning themselves on a the ground, a rock or a log. Just be sure to take along a pair of pliers to remove the hook if they decide to eat your bait!

Looking for Gold…..Golden Trout, That Is!

One the most fun types of fish to catch are the trout. There are so many different kinds of trout and they all are so interesting to observe. Trout also a very yummy if you decide to keep them. Just watching them is a thrill. In this blog post you will learn about several different kinds of trout. I hope you find pleasure in learning about these amazing fish God created for us to enjoy.

Click below to open the Powerpoint presentation. You can also open it in Keynote, if you have that app.

Looking for Golden Trout

“If It Quacks Like A Duck” …What If It Doesn’t Quack? Can It Be A Duck?

 

Have you you ever seen a duck like these? I had not until my son sent me some pictures of these strange birds. Apparently you have to be in the Southern- most part of the United States to see them. These ducks were photographed in Texas feeding in the lawn next to a lake. They often go unseen in the areas where they live because they do most of their feeding at night. You will probably hear them before you see them, however. They are very loud. Don’t expect to hear quacking! They aren’t called “Whistling Ducks” for nothing. These are Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. They are more similar to the swans in behavior than the ducks you and I are most familiar. So how are they different?

Black-Bellied Whistling ducks spend more time on the ground than in the water. They also are monogamous: they mate for life with just one partner. They, in addition, are difficult to tell  apart by gender since both the females and the males look alike, which is quite different than other ducks. They usually nest in trees or other high structures that offer cavities for the eggs to be placed. If you look at them closely you will notice they have much longer legs than other ducks. These ducks usually stay in the same areas throughout the year. Though they might move around within that space, they really don’t migrate.

Some other interesting things about these ducks is how they often practice “egg dumping“. What does that mean? The females occasionally  sneak into another Whistling Duck’s nesting area and dump the eggs already there and replace them with their own eggs. I guess this is a sneaky way out of having to feed the ducklings when they arrive. These ducks eat mostly plant material being primarily Herbivores. They often augment their diets with a little protein by consuming small aquatic insects, snails and spiders. They also may raid a farmer’s field to feed on rice and corn though usually this is after the primary harvest where they are actually serving as clean up duty for the remaining grain.

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks have a number of natural enemies.These include animals that feed on their eggs like: raccoons, skunks, rat snakes, and bull snakes. Other animals prey on the baby ducklings including: Bass, catfish, gar, and even fire-ants. The adults are occasionally snatched up by great-horned owls.

These ducks are very colorful. Note their pink beaks, gray heads, black legs and chocolate brown wings. If you watch them in flight you will notice they have white wing patches which are mostly out of sight when on the ground.

So…if you are in Texas and if you hear a loud “Waa-Choo” whistling sound, you might find these ducks nearby. I can’t wait to return to my son’s house to observe them first-hand!

 

Here you see a pair sharing the shore with a Great Egret.

 

 

                        
    

All of the above pictures were taken by Calvin Gluck in his yard inTexas. Thank you, Calvin.

Below are a couple pictures taken at the same lake by a neighbor of Calvin, Jamie. Thanks for letting me include them in my blog.

 

 

A Rarely Seen Creature: A Springtime Beauty!

While walking in Dogwood Canyon in Missouri this past week I discovered a creature I had never seen before. Apparently it is only seen in its adult stage in the months of March through May. It is often mistaken for a butterfly when it is actually a moth. It fooled me until I took a closer look. Let’s learn about the Grapevine epimenis.

 

 

Click below to open Powerpoint presentation. If you have the Keynote app, you can also open it there.

 

Diurnal Moth Grapevine epimenis

Can You Walk On Water? This Bug Can!

On a recent trip to Missouri I spent some time down by a creek. I had walked a mile up the canyon and my wife wanted to go farther. I decided to wait stream-side while she went farther up the trail. While sitting down by the edge of the water I noticed an interesting creature. This creature was actually standing on the water and streaking around like an ice skater on the surface. As I watched it, it went out and intercepted an insect that had been caught in the water surface tension. I continued to keep my eyes on this creature and watch what was going on in its surroundings. What an amazing creature God created for this very environment. Is it helpful or harmful? How is it uniquely designed to live where it is found? Let me tell you more about this insect called by many names: Water-Strider, Jesus Bug, Water- Skater, and more.

 

Click below to open Powerpoint presentation.  You can also open it in Keynote, if you have that app.

 

Can You Walk On Water

How to Make an Origami Four-Leaf Clover

In one of my previous posts I shared with you about the four-leaf clover. It’s not luck. It’s God’s providence. Even though the four-leaf clover can not bring you good luck, it can remind us of its Creator and how our relationship with Him is different from that of the world apart from Him. Each year, on St. Patrick’s Day, we see a lot of these clovers. Interestingly it is said that St. Patrick often used a the more common three-leaf clover to remind others of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If you want to fold a four-leaf clover, follow these steps. It makes a fun ornament for St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Begin with a square of green paper. It doesn’t matter the size, just that it is square. Fold an X on one side of the paper and then turn it over and fold a cross on the middle. Now, turn it over and it should look like this:

 

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Next, fold the four corners to the center. This is called a Blintz fold.

Next, turn the paper over and fold the four corners to the center again.

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And next, yes, turn it over and Blintz the paper again. It should look like this:

 

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Now we we need to form the leaves. On the way we will form a cross shape.  To do this we need to pop out the four corners and squash them flat.

 

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Repeat this on all corners until you have a cross.

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Now we we need to shape the leaves by crimping the edges of each side of the cross.

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Now we need to pocket-fold these beveled corners inside the piece.

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When completed it looks like this:

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You can make it more 3-D by valley folding the middle cross shape and the squeezing the outside. This makes it hold its shape better.

Now all you need is a stem. This is the easiest part! Just cut a piece of paper into a rectangle and the fold it in half length-wise two times.

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Finally, turn the top of the clover over and insert the stem into one of the pockets on the back of the clover.

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And there you have it…a four-leaf clover! Make up a bunch and use them as party favors for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

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Turkey Time: Learn about a rare Turkey!

One day my grandchildren and my wife and I went out to a farm to visit a friend that had an amazing turkey. This turkey, I came to find out, was a rare bird…literally!  I hope you enjoy learning about this turkey and also, like me, come away amazed at God’s creativity in designing such an interesting bird. Enjoy!

 

 

Click below to open the Powerpoint presentation. If you have the Keynote app you can also open it in that.

 

turkey-time-chapel

Mossy Rose Galls: Something Strange in the Rose Garden

I was walking down by the stream one day and came across some interesting growths on the wild roses growing there. Of course, I had to investigate! Come to find out, these strange mossy looking balls were actually insect houses. The insects actually program the plant to make them grow these galls in various forms. I later open some and found inside tiny grubs which I found out were the larva of developing wasps. These wasps are not the ones you usually see, however, but tiny ones that usually go unnoticed unless you see their handiwork, these amazing structures.

Click below to open the Powerpoint presentation on these interesting creatures. If you have the Keynote app you can also open it in that.

 

mossy-rose-galls