May 29, 2011 — Turtles & more

Last Friday found Savannah, Joe LaCount and me on a kayak expedition.  All the streams were too high, so we elected to paddle through the flooded cornfields again.  We probably won’t have another chance to do it this summer, and besides, Savannah had never been there.  There were orioles everywhere, and I saw the first Great Crested Flycatcher of the year.  We paddled down to the bald eagle nest.  This time we could see the eaglets inside, almost ready to fledge. 

From Spring 2011

There are four eagles in this picture.

At one point I saw a softshell turtle on a log.  As I was going for my camera, Joe accidentally coasted too close and spooked it.  He felt kind of bad about that, so two days later he stops by the house with a small softshell that he had found crossing the road.  It was a beautiful specimen.  I love it when people bring me reptiles. 

From Spring 2011

Smooth softshell turtle (Apalone muticus).  According to my field guide, I’ve never seen this species before.  The spiny softshell is much more common.  Naturally, I took many shots from many angles.

From Spring 2011

Kind of looks like a pancake.  Though this species is notoriously aggressive, this individual was tame, and never attempted to bite.

From Spring 2011

Those nostrils are actually diagnostic.  The spiny has big, bean shaped nostrils with ridges in them.

The periodical cicada emergence has been in full force since the weather warmed up.  I had agreed to help with mapping the Brood XIX emergence, especially the small finger of their range that was supposed to go up into Southeast Iowa.  So I decided to make the first outing a motorcycle ride.  I packed the camera bag and a clipboard.  I mounted my 10-year-old GPS unit on the handlebars.  It was a great day for a ride, though a bit hot.   I confirmed that they were in Shimek State Forest near Farmington.

From Spring 2011

That’s where I shot this guy, who I found on the ground, a victim of deformed wings.

From Spring 2011

Around the edge of the woods I spotted this caterpillar devouring a leaf. 

I also found the cicadas up near Keosauqua, which was farther north than I expected.  I recorded them all the way back, with huge numbers in Memphis, MO.  I wasn’t certain I had found the northern limit of their distribution. 

Stacey agreed to go back out with me the next day.  We decided to take the car and bring the dogs with us.  It was a minor adventure.  We stopped in Farmington to see Hel Mart, which was supposed to be really interesting.  Stacey went in while I waited in the car.  She was disappointed.  So we stopped at the Dutchmen’s store in Cantril, where Stacey bought some goodies.  From there we ran back up to Keosauqua and had lunch at Misty’s Malts.  For the second day in a row, I had a chocolate malt there.  Yum!  We proceeded north, beyond where the cicadas were calling.  We ended up in Eldon, which is the site of this historic artifact:

It’s rather unremarkable until you see it in context.

We drove back south, stopping to listen at every wooded patch.  We stopped at a cemetery just to walk the dogs and heard a single cicada calling.  I was much more confident that we had found the northern limit after this trip.
Sunday I had to work on long-delayed yard work.  While I was mowing, this guy jumped out of the grass and climbed the maple in the front yard.

From Spring 2011

Gray tree frog.

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