Well, I did get out to chase turtles for World Turtle Day, and I present proof:

eastern painted turtle Chrysemys picta picta basking on log in neighborhood pond
Hey, listen, even I’m saying, “Really? This?” But here’s the deal: There are tons of turtles in the neighborhood pond, which is no challenge at all, so I figured I’d make the effort to photograph a species that I hadn’t seen in a while, which I’d already been planning to stalk before this, and that’s the eastern box turtle. That’s not what’s pictured here – this is an eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta picta.) I’ve seen box turtles in the area, even right here at Walkabout Estates, but it’s been a while, and the last that I’d seen was out at North Topsail Beach four years ago. So I picked a likely habitat, with another as backup, and headed out on my quest.

And found bupkiss. I was mostly relying on my ears, because box turtles camouflage well in their native habitat so I was aiming to hear them moving through the leaf litter, but still taking the time to search prime areas by eye. Nothing showed itself at my first choice locale, so I moved on to the second. Nothing there either. By now I’d been at this for over three hours, and had a couple of errands to do, plus there was still the neighborhood pond as backup. Only thing was, right at the time that I was going to hike over there, the fierce thunderstorm rolled in and delayed things for an hour, and by that time it was early evening. What you see here is the only turtle that I found basking in the light overcast remaining after the thunderstorm – no surprise, really, because we’d moved beyond basking conditions. Oh, and another:

some turtle peeking from under surface
That’s not even worth trying to identify, and for clarity’s sake, I’ll tell you it’s the left side of the turtle’s head, aimed mostly skyward, with one eye visible at the waterline. But anyway, I celebrated the holiday by dedicating a search for a target species of turtle, specifically for the challenge. I just sucked at it.

While circling the pond, however, I did a few other photos, which aren’t topical but I’m feeling defensive.

buff female mallard Anas platyrhynchos sleeping with brood
The buff female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) that’s been hanging around for a couple of years now had another brood this year, and was found snoozing on the pond’s banks, willing to ignore me as long as I didn’t get too close, though as it was, I passed only a handful of meters away. This detour required me to stroll among over a dozen Canada geese that were blocking the entire drive around the pond, a few of which gave me warning hisses but were otherwise mellow. While close, I did some tight portraits of the ducklings.

mallard Anas platyrhynchos ducklings waking from nap
The ducklings were more wary of me than the mother – it’s usually the opposite – but not so much that they stirred themselves from their temporary roost. In the blog folder is a fartsy composition of the mother and ducklings from about two weeks ago, that I haven’t found the excuse yet to post. It’ll show soon.

A short distance away, a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) was perched on the banks.

great blue heron Ardea herodias being Florida mellow
The herons have been pretty spooky this year, and I haven’t even draw close before, but this one was being Florida tolerant, watching me carefully but allowing me to pass within 8-10 meters, and for my part I played it casual, snapping a couple of frames almost carelessly before ignoring the heron as inconsequential, which may have helped. It let me get a tighter portrait too.

profile of Florida mellow great blue heron Ardea herodias
Yeah, I was supposed to be after turtles, but there were no turtles in sight, and this guy was right there, asking for it. I accept no blame for responding appropriately.

Plus, there is some really cool content coming soon, though it requires a bit of editing so I’m not committing to a specific date – before the end of the week, at least. I had a good evening yesterday. Sit tight.