Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dig It

On a sunny day in May, this Florida soft-shelled turtle wandered up into My Florida Backyard from the lake. She visited a few times throughout the morning, and in early afternoon, finally decided the time and place were right.

So, she began to dig.

In slow steady strokes, she used her strong hind legs to dig a deep hole in the sandy soil. She worked for nearly 20 minutes, laboring under the hot sun.

Then, for about 10 minutes, she sat fairly still, though if you watched closely, you could see her straining and shifting from time to time. My research tells me she laid "9 - 24 brittle, white, spherical eggs". When she finished, she scratched in the soil again to cover them, and then returned to the lake with unbelievable speed.

We knew what would happen next, although we did try to fight it off by covering the site for a few minutes and then watering it down to wash away some of the smell. But the crows had been hovering the entire time, and the turtle eggs didn't really have a chance.

In a few minutes, the nest hole was all that was left, crawling with fire ants. It's surprisingly deep and narrow, although sadly empty.

Some people say there are no seasons in Florida, but springtime here in My Florida Backyard seems to bring out the same behavior you'd see in wildlife anywhere this time of year!

P.S. For those who've been following the saga of the baby ducks: we're down to two now, after a red-tailed hawk captured one on Wednesday. The remaining two are holding strong, though, and we have high hopes for them!

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