Monday, May 30, 2011

Normal Late Spring Events

My year is filled with annual events that mark each season and give a type of stability to the changing face of Blue Jay Barrens. Bird comings and goings, bloomings, hatchings, animal appearances, plant growth and decline; each event confirms my belief that the heart of Blue Jay Barrens is still strong and healthy. Box turtles will always be special to me and the spring season is full of their vigorous reclamation of life following the winter hibernation. I never tire of watching them.

Turtles are a wonder. An Eastern Box Turtle has a life span that rivals that of humans and it may live that entire life within an area no bigger than a football field. This large male shows the signs of many years spent wandering this ground. It may have been here for the last 70 or 80 years and might have witnessed plowing of the hillsides and planting of agricultural crops, along with the massive erosion that followed. I can imagine this fellow stepping out of the way of a cow’s hoof, closing up as it’s nearly run over by a log truck, feeling the ground shake beneath its shell as the farm tractor rumbles by, and being picked up and examined by several generations of children. This turtle has probably witnessed much of the site history that I’m so curious about.

Cooper’s Hawks are regulars at Blue Jay Barrens. Although they are regularly seen hunting small birds near the feeders, it’s this time of year that they are most noticeable. They become quite vocal during the nesting and young rearing period. I find an active nest about every other year, but they probably nest here every year. Most nests are high up in the tallest cedar trees and are very hard to spot from the ground. Some years they appear to use an old squirrel nest as a base and this makes it even harder to recognize from below.

Tree Swallows reenact the same performance each year. Even though they look and act the same, I’m sure they’re not the same pair. The only difference seems to be an increase in numbers. The number of returning swallows now greatly exceeds the number of available nest boxes.

The failure of the Yellow Lady’s Slipper to produce seeds is one of those annual events that I would like to change. It’s now clear that the bend in the double bloomed stalk is going to result in the withering of the flowers. I don’t know what caused the stalk to bend and then dry as this one has. I’ve seen a lot of strange things happen to this plant and this year has added a couple of new ones.

The single flower that flipped upside down is shriveling quickly. There’s probably no chance of this one producing any seed. I suppose it’s alright to put in a few disappointments as long as there are enough joys to cancel them out.


  1. Wow, that first photo with the turtle's red eyes really grabs your attention!

  2. Speaking of box turtles , hows your turtle ID log coming along? Would be cool to know how many individuals you are seeing. Like "Turtle Watch" :) I saw another one in the marsh field the other day and thought about your turtles.

  3. Hi, Rebecca. The red eyes of the males are great. I take face shots of every male box turtle I come across.

    Well, Michael, the turtle log will have to wait until I have time to sort the turtle pictures out of the thousands of pictures I've taken. I'm sure I'll get to it one of these days. In the mean time, I keep taking pictures.