For Easter this year I was up north at the cottage where the lake has mostly melted leaving lots of open water perfect for migratory water birds. While out walking around I saw at least six trumpeter swans and many hooded mergansers. I also found some snapping turtle eggs, many turtles lay their eggs in the fall. During which time they completely freeze in the winter only to be thawed out in the spring. Because of the warm weather, I thought I would be able to find some baby turtles in an area known for having lots of turtle nests. I did not find any baby turtles however I did find many egg shells both recent and some from last year. These eggs belong to a Snapping Turtle as there are only two turtle species in Ontario which lay completely round, ping pong ball like eggs; the snapping turtle and the softshell turtle. Softshell turtles are not found in this area leaving snapping turtle as the only option. Unfortunately I did not bring my good camera so all the photos are taken with my iPod.
Found this little guy in the on campus tipi during one of my Indigenous seminars/smudge. Because of the crazy warm weather this little guy became active but the last few days of cold and snow has sent him finding heat. Lucky for him the closest heat source is the tipi though there is no food in the tipi or anywhere on campus for him to eat. So I brought him home where he resides in a cleaned out vitamin water bottle eating cafeteria lettuce. Because I found him in the tipi and during my Indigenous seminar I decided to give him an Indigenous name; Memengwaa which translates to butterfly.
I have recently created a small website for Hammond my Yellow Bellied Slider. The website's aim is education about the threats that turtles face not only here in Ontario but all over the world. The site covers a bunch of important conservation issues such as road mortality, the illegal pet trade and habitat loss. The aim is to educate people on turtle conservation as many turtles in Ontario alone have become threatened and some even endangered. By spreading the word on turtle conservation Hammond is contributing to his own conservation project fueled by education.
Today my friends and I went to the annual Peterborough Rocks, Gems and Fossils show hosted by the Kawartha Rock and Fossil Club. At the show we say a large variety of minerals but the fossils are what stuck out the most for me. I got myself a fossilized piece of carapace from a Box Turtle from 10,000 years ago during the upper Pleistocene. The fossil was found in Santa Fe River in Florida, U.S.A. I also picked up a mystery bag which contained the fragmented piece of an unidentified turtle shell from the middle Oligocene. I got lots of animals and best of all I don't even have to feed them or clean their tank.
For the past few days I was spending my time with the conservationist; the Salamander Man and the rest of his herping group. Now winter herping may seam like an oxymoron but some herps, mainly salamanders come out during the cold temperatures of a Canadian February.
As soon as I got to his place I was delighted by the huge amount of salamanders he keeps and uses for outreach programs and to try and educate the public about salamander conservation. Many of his specimens are native species which he is able to keep with a special permit while others he has acquired through the pet trade such as his Tiger Salamanders.
On the first whole day there we went to a variety of pet shops and even went as far as Kanata as pet shops offer a larger variety of herps then what one may find in winter in Canada. We saw many herps such as the Cranwell's Horned Frog, Box turtles and even a Two-Toed Amphiuma which the Salamander Man had to get to add to his large collection. Amphiumas may look like a cross between a snake and an eel but are in fact a species of large salamander from north America
Later that night is when the real herping began, we drove to a relatively shallow river right by a dam. The area is known for Mudpuppies though after lots of searching and boots filled with ice cold water that made me lose feeling in my feet we begun to lose hope. Until that is we decided to check the first area we looked a second time just to be sure which is where we found a small Mudpuppy but a Mudpuppy all the same. Mudpuppies tend to spend much of their time in the deepest parts of lakes in winter however when the temperature reaches a specific temperature many swim up streams where they can be easily found.
Finally on the last day, it was time for me to head back to Peterborough however one the way back we checked out one last herping spot for Eastern Newts. Eastern Newts can be found in winter in small ponds that have not completely frozen over, that day however we were not as fortunate as the night before as instead of finding a living Eastern Newt we had only found one dead one but even dead one can still admire its brilliant colouration. Sadly this marks the end of my herping trip however spring is just around the corner (hopefully, its hard to tell with Canadian weather) and with it will be a whole array of herps waiting to be found.
I'm Mac Marzolini and I created this blog for a variety of reasons, the first of course is to open a window into what is happening in my life (cause my grandmother reads this), but also to help myself catalogue some of my favorite photos from my many adventures.