Wildlife Update

Big news in the pastime of Wildlife Spottting for us, although not as we would have expected it.

We were driving home from an exciting trip having picked up groceries curbside at Walmart when Tracy perilously braked and pulled the truck as close to the edge as you can get on these curvy, shoulder-less country roads.

Snapping Turtle!

Big, one, too. Or I thought so—Tracy claims they’re all really big and this is average. I’m claiming the shell is two feet long.

She (my guess due to the spring season) was crossing the road so slowly that an oncoming car would hit her, so Tracy got out and pushed her real quick all the way off the road with his foot.

Then of course he took photos. Thanks, Tracy. 🙂

A small creek runs under the road right there, so the turtle may have been avoiding the drainage pipe on her way to a wetter place to lay eggs.

I don’t see snapping turtles often and was super impressed with the size of her legs (not pictured; another car could have come up any minute and smashed into us all) and her wide, powerful tail.

I did not get out of the truck.


Banjo’s lizard who lives in the tree stump by our front porch turns out to be an adult five-lined skink, the same type that I grew up with. I seemed to see them when I was a kid only in juvenile form when they have blue or green tails, so that’s why I didn’t recognize this guy.

It’s not an exciting photo, but moments later he ran right at us, over the plastic rug, between our chairs, and under the Airstream.

Banjo was inside at the time and missed the skink show.


I had no idea they make these holes—I don’t remember seeing them as a kid even though I saw plenty of crawfish.

I came across this one in the marshy area where the lake had receded after flooding, and Tracy ID’ed it for me. It makes me think of those drip castles you make in wet sand at the beach. Crawfish Houses! I’m going to look for more. Stay tuned.


The local beaver isn’t letting Banjo intimidate it. On the contrary; he’s already repaired the hole Banjo made in the top of the lodge and seems to be bringing new vegetation to the vicinity every day.

A few mornings ago when I was leading Banjo diligently around the lodge—no stopping for sniffing—I heard a huge SMACK across the lake. It sounded like a giant fish had jumped up and done a belly flop.

I saw right away that the beaver wanted us to know he was there so we’d vamoose from the lodge. He certainly swam with his full body showing almost all the way across the lake toward us before he went under.

Now, I lived for a bit on a farm where beavers had dammed a creek so that part of the woods had turned into wetlands, and I used to see beavers swimming there nearly every evening when Jack and I went walking. So much land was under water that great blue herons were nesting in the tops of the dying trees. So you’d think I’d be over the excitement, but this is our quarantine beaver. I like watching him very much.

So does Banjo though. I have to keep her real close to me while we edge around the lodge on the narrow deer trail, and then I make her stop several yards away so the beaver knows we’re not a threat.

This is the face Banjo gives me.


I want to list all the birds Tracy’s added to his list, but I’m writing this in the middle of the night while he’s asleep so I’m not going to ask him for a reminder. I know he saw a green heron though because I saw it through the binoculars, too. Gorgeous.

I’ll ask him in the morning about the other birds. And I won’t even try with all the plants and mushrooms he’s enjoying identifying.

Tracy walks through the woods slowly and deliberately, listening, stopping to bring his binoculars up so he can find the birds he hears. He also walks with his eyes down, scanning the forest floor, every few feet picking up a a swollen seed or a mystery leaf and memorizing it so he can look it up in a reference book back at the trailer.

Meanwhile, I’m striding along the path stretching my legs, thinking and maybe singing quietly and missing all the details. I love the feel of the woods and seem to be able to soak that up only by barging through it. Banjo likes to swing her long white legs along with me.

Wild Things

Here’s a final sign of wildlife I spotted on the deer trail around the lake, also as the flood water is subsiding.

I like to imagine the kid who lost one flipflop during a wild romp on the water trampoline and didn’t even care. Maybe she’ll be back this summer after we’re gone and will loose a pink flip flop this time.

Okay, you guys take care and don’t inject any bleach into your veins, please.

7 thoughts to “Wildlife Update”

  1. When I was a kid, we lived near a pond. The “hero” of the neighborhood was the big, bad, daring teenage boy who would come get the huge snapping turtles and return them to the pond. I laugh now because that kid was probably a boy like Nick. We were terrified of those turtles.

  2. these are great wildlife images! I know nothing about crawfish and am puzzled how a fish lives in an elegant mudpile?