This baby turtle is doomed!

Today is turtle-hatching day at our house.  I found a dozen or so scattering to the various water bodies around here, from their eggs buried under the driveway.  Doomed because turtles are declining in population so you can assume that from an average female fewer than two babies survive to reproduce (otherwise the population would grow).  So out of an average of 40 eggs per year for 40 years of reproduction, only 1 in 800 survive to have their own offspring.  Pretty bad odds I think.  Once they get to be mature, they are ornery enough to have not many enemies except cars running over them, so most are dying in the first few months and the rest in the next few years.  Wish this one luck!

Baby turtle
Baby turtle

This one strayed from cover but no raccoons, skunks, owls or other predators will attack while there is a photographer around.

Baby turtle 2
Baby turtle 2

 

These are snapping turtles.  They can’t withdraw fully into their shells, but as I said, the adults are nasty enough that nothing around here will attack them, except humans.  I have been told they are barely edible so these days not many humans will try either.
It is probably no coincidence, with fifty or so of these guys “running” for cover, that this kestrel showed up, but wouldn’t get close enough for a clear picture.

Kestrel
Kestrel on bird-house pole

 

How I photograph tiny things

I took a picture of this

Stick insect on window frame
Stick insect on window screen – reflection of m

 

I took it with this:

Camera with macro equipment
Camera with macro equipment

And the result was this:

Stick insect portrait
Stick insect portrait

Handsome fellow, isn’t he.  That’s about as close as I can get.  For the technically minded, the camera is a Canon T2i with a 100mm Canon macro lens, 65mm worth of extension tubes I got cheap from China, a Neewer LED ring light to get enough light that close (also cheap from China) and an Aputure timer/remote controller so the camera stays steady when I have the shakes (it also does timed release including time lapse – guess where I got it from, cheap).

Angels’ Trumpets (Datura)

I bought a package of seeds of this purple variety a long time ago.  They self seed every year and in spite of the drought this year, they have grown quite large:

Angels' Trumpets
Angels’ Trumpets getting tall

Their flowers’ shape gives them the name:

Datura flower
Datura flower

I like the way they twist as they open.

Their seed pods are far from angelic, they are very sharp, especially as they ripen.  No animals seem to risk eating these:

Datura Seed Pod
Datura Seed Pod

Another reason is that they are very poisonous – they are hallucinogenic but death is a significant risk to avoid.  It is reputed to be part of the witches’ pharmacopœia for potions.

Spiders are good mothers and pretty too!

Pretty spiders make good mothers

Here’s a pretty one:

Green-legged spider
Orchard spider (Leucauge venusta)

I found it in our back woods.

As for the wolf spider which Benjamin found, they are good mothers.  They look after their babies (guard them, not feed them as there are rather a lot!)

Wolf spider guarding babies
Wolf spider guarding babies

and yes, all those little dots in the web are baby spiders.  Here’s a closer view:

Wolf spider babies
Wolf spider babies

This lot will keep the insect population down.

Masters of Camouflage

Insect camouflage wizards

Can you find the stick insect in this picture?

Stick Insect
Stick Insect in cherry tree

No trickery; you will recognize it if you look in the right place.  There is a clue below and here is a closer up picture:

Stick Insect
Stick Insect close up

and here is the clue:

Stick Insect revealed
Stick Insect revealed

These insects eat leaves and are suppose to really like oaks but I’ve never actually seen one on my oak trees, even though I’ve tried to find one.

If you have time, I’d really recommend spending 6 minutes watching this video of one hatching from a round egg – it’s like a magic trick seeing this long thin insect hatching from a spherical egg.

Here is another mistress of disguise:

Mantis
Mantis

I only spotted this one because I was scything weeds (much quieter and less stinky than a string trimmer) and it started moving fairly fast to get away.

All these are taken in my Ontario garden.