Sometimes I have to walk away from the common challenges of wildlife photography, subjects like deer feeding in fading light, butterflies darting erratically across a meadow, tiny birds searching for berries in dense undergrowth, an eagle soaring in the clouds.
Turtles loafing in the warm afternoon sun on late summer days is a nice alternative, one where speed and light are inconsequential! Turtle searching led me to the Chenango Canal towpath trail and wetland complex.
My first encounter was a painted turtle basking in the warm gravel at the edge of the road. I managed to capture a few portraits before it crawled into the swamp.
A hundred meters down the towpath trail, I saw what appeared to be a shiny flat rock in the grassy center strip. Something wasn’t right – too shiny – so I approached cautiously. Oh boy – a young snapping turtle! It was tiny by snapper standards, about the size of a hand with fingers extended. Speaking of fingers …..
I wanted one more image, that of a big, mature snapper, but much of the shallow water along the near bank was obscured by the tall, dense growth of Touch-me-not (Jewelweed).
Eventually I found a clear view of the canal in prime turtle habitat, but saw nothing but a large, slimy rock covered in algae and mud. Time to give up and head home……or not!?
The rock had a neck and head! Snappers can live 30 to 40 years and weigh up to 35 pounds; I think this prehistoric monster is living proof!
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.