A Zen Moment

Hello! How’s everybody doing? It’s been a while and with good reason. David and I finally moved. Yay! Needless to say, it’s been an extremely busy summer — hence the long absence from WordPress. Moving took a lot out of me, physically and emotionally; so I took a bit of extra time for myself. The new place is pure awesomeness because it’s exactly what I was holding out for — a gorgeous country setting! I’m so excited to finally have a yard that we can actually use and enjoy. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity to be outdoors, exploring my new surroundings. This is a huge improvement over our last living situation.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #1 Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #2

Our neighbors have a puppy who brought us a gift yesterday morning while we were sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, an Eastern Box Turtle. Well… David rescued it from her. I stayed outside with it most of the afternoon to see if it was okay.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #3

It was closed up tight in its shell, my guess, traumatized by its playful predator; so it took quite a while for it to finally open up and stick its head out — a female with the most beautiful brown eyes. She appeared uninjured, thankfully.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #4

I took a few initial photos of her and headed inside for some water and fruit to see if she would eat. She wouldn’t. Maybe she just didn’t care for cantaloupe.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #5

Before long she realized I wasn’t a threat and began to get antsy to be on her way.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #6

One of the bonuses of this piece of property is that there is a small patch of forest with a creek running at the property line. The creek is only a short hike away; so I decided it would be best to free my new little friend down there, hopefully giving her a head start at evasion from her canine huntress.

Forest Creek

I stayed down there with her for the better part of an hour. At first, she remained closed-up tight in her shell. While I waited to be sure she made her escape, I stacked rocks in the creek — total Zen. It’s so relaxing down there (well, minus the mosquitoes).

Stone Balancing 8.16.14

I made it to 8 rocks again before Ms. Turtle decided to poke her head out and check out the surroundings.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #7

It took her a little while longer before she was ready to move along, so I gave her some space while I photographed spiders and a number of Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (correct ID?). They were all over the place out there!

Unknown Spider Spider

A quick update (8.21.2014): Today I was looking through some spider photos and found the one on the left-hand side. This is Spined Micrathena, Species Micrathena gracilis.

Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)

I also had the pleasure of seeing a Pileated Woodpecker for the first time. I was in awe of its size! I’ve heard these birds ever since we moved in, but I wasn’t for certain what it was until seeing it yesterday. Honestly, their vocalizations cause me to imagine a prehistoric creature like a pterodactyl or they sound like something you would hear in a tropical rain forest. When I began researching what bird made this unique sound, my first thought was Cooper’s Hawk. After finally seeing it, however, I know for certain that it is a Pileated Woodpecker. I’m truly wishing I had a camera with a telephoto lens to photograph this beauty. I didn’t manage a photo of the woodpecker, but I did capture its vocalizations in a couple of video clips (below).

Eventually, this lovely turtle cautiously began her journey to wherever turtles go, swimming across the creek to the other side. I bid her farewell and thanked her for her patience with me. I hope she has a nice long life. Maybe I’ll see her again someday.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #8

A Special Note: I’ve heard of people tagging turtles. After researching the unwise practice today while writing this post, I was more than disturbed by the extent to which people are painting turtle shells, especially given the reasons for NOT doing so which include:

  1. making the turtle more visible to predators
  2. preventing the turtle’s shell from breathing
  3. preventing the turtle’s shell from needed UV rays that help it grow
  4. toxicity of paints used

I’m sure there are other reasons, but those are reason enough to pass this information along.

NEVER paint a turtle’s shell.

Also, to reiterate an earlier post from a few years ago, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:

“In Tennessee, no one is allowed to keep any animal as a pet taken from the wild, which to many people’s surprise includes tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, baby birds, squirrels, raccoons, and young deer. If the animal is injured, call the nearest of TWRA’s four Regional Offices for a list of permitted rehabilitators, who will keep the animal until it can be returned to the wild. If it cannot be returned, the rehabilitator will turn the animal over to someone with a special Educator’s Permit, who may be able to use the animal in a classroom or teaching setting.”

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4 thoughts on “A Zen Moment

  1. What a day you had! A bonanza of things in the wild! I’ve never seen a turtle like that – and am fascinated by the color and the shell, especially the way it closes. Thank you for the “live and learn lesson” about marking a turtle!
    Much happiness to you and David in your new home. I look forward to posts from your yard and the creek!

  2. Love the turtle pics — how beautiful — makes me wish I had a shell, sort of.

    And thanks for admitting the paint thing — most people wouldn’t, but I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Steve! I figured it was better to admit my mistake and hopefully help others *not* make the same mistake rather than protect my pride. 😉 Nature is an important teacher.

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