Saturday, June 1, 2013

Season of the Snapper: A time to lay eggs!

Photos by Jonathan Schechter  6/1/2013

Sunshine warmed the earth and rains softened the soil; making perfect egg-laying conditions for the common snapping turtle. But on June lst, National Trail Day, as I hiked the new trail extension of the West Bloomfield Trail Network I did not expect to see snapping turtles  under the cloudy sky.  I was wrong.  In addition to discovering many nests that had apparently been raided and devoured by raccoons in search of turtle egg omelets, I stumbled upon a medium size snapper in the very act of egg-laying.

Hikers and strollers stopped to watch and kept a respectful distance.
She scooped with hind legs and positioned herself for egg laying.
She watched us casually and did not withdraw her algae and duckweed covered head.

I carefully positioned myself near her backside and zoomed the lens just in time to capture the image of egg leaving her body and joining others in her muddy nest.  Once the egg-laying ended  she will leave her nest that will mostly likely have several dozen eggs or more. She will never return.  If raccoons or  coyotes do not dig up the eggs for a tasty snack the hatchlings will emerge in as little as 55 days or in as much as 140 days; it all depends on soil and weather conditions. A great day in nature for the trailside turtle and for me on the new West Bloomfield Trail.


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