Readers’ wildlife photos

First, Stephen Barnard reports that all eleven gadwall ducklings (Anas strepera) are still alive (yay!!); he sent some information and a photo for proof:

Like mallards, gadwalls are dabbling ducks. The ducklings don’t dabble. You’ve seen that with your mallards. The ducklings spend their feeding time foraging for insects (I believe) on the alga mats that are all too common in the creek. The hen doesn’t feed that way. She dabbles, sticking her head underwater and her butt skyward. She’s probably eating  a lot of insects and shrimp, too.


He also sent a photo of wildflowers and his beloved border collie:

Penstemon eatonii (Eaton’s Firecracker Beardtongue). There’s a common name for you. And Deets.

Reader Christopher sent a Close Encounter of the Rodential Kind; fortunately the ‘munk lived:

Here is a photo taken at my family’s house in the Missouri Ozarks at the end of May this year. As you can see, the Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) was playing a life or death version of Spot The Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). I was up on the back deck when I heard a noisy commotion down below and rushed down to find the chipmunk had just missed being lunch. What was odd was that rather than making a noisy chittering fuss, as they do when the ‘munks spot me, this one ran several feet away, then turned around and crept back up to the snake! Keeping one weary eye on me, the other on the copperhead, the chipmunk sat there, slowly waving its tail back and forth. Not wanting to stress either creature, I snapped a pic and then stepped far back to watch, but neither party advanced. The snake eventually departed without a meal when the chipmunk scampered off, living to pilfer the bird feeders for at least another day.

Garry vanGelderen from Ontario has a raccoon issue:

This raccoon gets past my squirrel defenses on the bird feeder, no trouble at all, and in broad daylight.

And a threatened  and semi-aquatic species from reader Claudia Baker:

This Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) came across my front lawn on Saturday evening.  She dug around a bit in the gravel in the driveway, then in the pea gravel near the house.  Finding neither spot to her satisfaction, she headed back across the lawn and into the woods.

There are a lot of wetlands around here (40 km outside of Ottawa). Blanding’s turtles are “threatened”, (not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it). It is easily identified by its bright yellow throat and chin and domed shell.  They can reach 27 cm long.  This one was about that size.  The Ministry of Natural Resources website says it is not unusual to see them hundreds of metres from the nearest water body, especially if looking for a nesting site. This threatened species and the wetlands are automatically protected.  The Ministry and the local Conservation Authority are very strict about the wetlands, so they are left as is, with no interference.

In the photo you can see her yellow chin and brown/black domed shell with flecks.  I tried to get a picture from the front, but she’d pull her head in as soon as she saw me.  When I patted her shell, (I was gentle), she hissed at me!

I was disappointed that she decided not to lay her eggs in my driveway, as I was looking forward to watching & waiting for the babies (and protecting the nest from raccoons etc.). Then, I would have taken the babies down to the wetlands, saving them a long walk on those tiny legs.  Note to self:  Buy a good camera!

Just to show her size relative to my car:


  1. rickflick
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Our local bank branch was recently built on a sight found to have some Blanding’s turtles. They put up a barrier to keep them off the parking lot. Inside the bank they keep brochures describing the species. I have yet to see one, but when I visit, I always survey the perimeter in hopes of spotting one.

  2. Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Nice photos! The chipmunk-copperhead photo: Lucky you to witness that!

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    A great collection of photos today. Suspect the field where Deets runs is some of that seeded area.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I reckon the chipmunk didn’t run away immediately to make sure you saw the snake. It’s identified certain humans as food providers, and therefore in need of protection.

  5. busterggi
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I needed this today. My next door neighbor threatened me last night because he claims the weeds in his yard are my fault, that my cats are ruining his yard and that I should be reported to the police as I allow a racoon to visit my yard.

    • Christopher
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I didn’t know that YOU were the source of all weeds! You must be a horrible person, not pulling up, poisoning, and destroying every bit of non-homeowners association approved plants or animals!

      Sorry you live next to an a**hole.

    • Garry VanGelderen
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      My yard is nothing but weeds, or wildlowers as I prefer to call them. And raccoons are part of the landscape. Live and let live is the motto.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted June 30, 2017 at 12:05 am | Permalink

        I mercilessly kill the weeds and promote the wildflowers. Weeds are simply plants that are where you don’t want them to be.

  6. Karen Bartelt
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Great looking ducklings and Blandings turtle.

  7. David Duncan
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Long Live Deets!

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      If Deets were capable of reciprocity, which he isn’t (much), he’d appreciate that. He’s cat-like in that respect, unlike my clingy, affectionate young Border Collie, Hitch.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:09 am | Permalink

        It’s fun to observe such differences in personality even within the same breed. Keeps one on one’s toes. 🙂

        Perhaps you can think of more ways to sneak pics of your pack in here… 😉

  8. Mark R.
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the dabbling info…didn’t know that. I haven’t seen Deets in a while, so it was nice to see his friendly face.

    Glad the chippy made it…that is a really cool photo.

    Really neat turtle, I feel for you not being able to be the human care-taker of wee threatened turtles.

  9. Stephen Barnard
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Very cool photo with the chipmunk and snake.

  10. Diane G.
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Glad to get the positive update on the gadwall brood!

    Fascinating chipmunk/copperhead story! So much we have yet to learn about animal behavior. (Not that I know whether or not such interactions have been noted/studied before or not…)

    Garry, I commiserate completely with your bird feeder/raccoon woes. The juveniles seem even better at outfoxing (raccooning?) deterrent devices than the adults do!

    Congrats on the Blanding’s, Claudia! We used to see them every year but haven’t for a decade or more now, and I miss them. I do see them at nearby parks and preserves, thankfully. Definitely egg-laying season for northern North American chelonians; a snapper laid her eggs in my front lawn a few weeks ago and now the painteds are showing up in the field path…Drive carefully, everyone!

    • rickflick
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Just a reminder, when you see a turtle with yellow spots, you could be looking at the similar spotted turtle. They look a lot alike at first glance.

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 1, 2017 at 2:42 am | Permalink

        Oh, I’d love to see one of those!

        What I most readily associate with the Blanding’s is the yellow chin & neck…in fact, I hadn’t noticed the spots in Claudia’s pic till you mentioned them. Sent me to a Google image search which showed a variety of spottiness including some that looked almost completely dark gray/green, which is what I’ve seen around here. There’s also the plastron hinge, of course, but I haven’t picked one up since that first one showed up so many years ago. It had a hole drilled through one small edge of its carapace, so I called the DNR to see if there was some study going on involving marking the turtles but they were unaware of any. The hole did allow me to recognize that the same individual showed up at least one more year.

    • claudia baker
      Posted June 30, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Ya, I was pretty chuffed to see her! We see lots of snappers and painted turtles, crossing the roads to lay eggs, as we are surrounded by wetlands and a huge swampy area which empties into the lake. But, I have never seen a Blandings before. And she was huge! I don’t know where she eventually laid her eggs, as I decided not to follow her into the woods that evening (too many bugs!) but hopefully she found a suitable spot.

      A friend of mine, who lives around here has a bumper sticker: “I brake and even swerve for turtles”.

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 1, 2017 at 2:46 am | Permalink

        Love it! Yeah, we take some occasional risks stopping to move turtles from the middle of the road…we once watched a live turtle get flattened by a car before we could get to it…so sad!

        • claudia baker
          Posted July 2, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          Oh, that’s heartbreaking! But I’m happy to know that others stop and move turtles off the road too. It’s the least we can do for the little critters.

          • rickflick
            Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

            I assisted a snapper today. An ugly prehistoric looking beast, but he seemed thankful.

            • Diane G.
              Posted July 3, 2017 at 1:26 am | Permalink

              Turtle gratitude. 🙂

              He may have been a she; this time of year the females are leaving their ponds and looking for a spot to lay their eggs. As I’m sure you’re aware.

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