PhotoHunter: Free

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “Free”.

For want of anything better, I will post some recent photos which have to do with the theme.

Recently, we rescued two turtles who were crossing the road and in danger of getting squashed. The first we released near a river after taking it for a drive in the car (and getting liberally peed on). The second I wasn’t going to mess with and just rolled it on its back and pushed it to the other side of the road. Snapping turtles are endangered and a protected species.

These are they and they were free to go…

(more on turtle rescue, below the photos)

Blanding's Turtle

Snapping turtle. Just about to flip it...

Last summer….

Painted turtle

Another look at the Blanding’s turtle.

Isn't he cute?

... not so cute....

A few things to remember about turtle rescue…

Firstly, many turtles are endangered and the ones that are not are becoming threatened by loss of habitat. Turtles often have to move across roads to get from one wet place to another, either for mating, for food, or because a pond has dried up or been drained for development.

Thousands of turtles are killed when crossing roads every summer, either when drivers don’t see them or by drivers who deliberately run them over. Accidentally running over a large Snapping Turtle can damage your car, as well, or cause a dangerous road situation. Deliberately killing or harming endangered turtles is illegal and if you see someone do it, you should report them.

It is usually illegal for you to remove wild turtles from their habitat and keep them as a pet. They are important to our ecosystems and should be left where they are whenever possible.

If it is injured, take it to a vet.

Moving turtles is relatively easy but you should always keep your own safety in mind. Be careful when you are standing on or crossing any roadway, especially when visibility is hampered by terrain or weather. If you have someone with you, have them watch for and alert traffic to slow down or stop.

Always make sure that you are putting the turtle on the side of the road that it was heading for and far enough off the road that it won’t try and go back the way it came from.

If you know there is water nearby, take the turtle there and release it near the water (not in it, in case you’ve mistaken a tortoise for a turtle or in case the turtle is injured. You don’t want to drown it!).

Always use caution when approaching a turtle if you aren’t familiar with the various species. Snappers are extremely fast and have a longer reach than you might give them credit for.

NEVER pick a turtle, even a Snapper, up by the tail. You can use the tail to flip a Snapper over but carrying one by the tail can damage the spine. As well, they are heavy and if you drop them, despite their having a thick shell, it can do some serious damage to the shell and it hurts the turtle.

Even if a turtle only breaks the skin if it bites you, the bite can be septic, especially the bites of Snappers. They are carnivores and scavengers. If you’ve ever smelled a Snapper, you’ll know you don’t want one clamping down on your hand…

Small turtles can be lifted and carried easily but watch for claws and jaws. It probably won’t hurt very much but if you are startled by them, you could drop them.

Snappers, if they are small enough can be picked up but you would be wise to wear gloves and, if possibly throw something over them, like a jacket or blanket, just to keep their beak away from you. They have an incredible reach.

Flipping them on their back and pushing them to the side of the road is a good method of dealing with Snappers. Remember to flip them over, again!. I used my car brush to push the last one off the road.

I have used a large piece of plywood to bulldoze a very large one off the road.

I have started carrying a “turtle kit” in the car…. Water (for re-hydrating them and for washing my hands after), heavy gloves, a piece of tarpaulin, and a light snow shovel for pushing them off the road.

Many states and provinces have methods of reporting on-line both rescues and people who have killed or injured turtles. Make a careful note of where you were, the habitat, the description of the turtle, any injuries, and where you released the turtle if you transported it. Get photos if you can. I use Google Maps to pinpoint locations and to obtain the longitude and latitude.

Since I spend many a summer day on the back roads, I have rescued a number of turtles, as well as other animals, including snakes and injured birds. Every animal saved helps make up for the millions that die on our roads every year.

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Sunday Drive

On Sunday, Mom and I went on another Sunday drive, along a favourite route. Bolton Road, which eventually becomes Kyle Road, runs south from Highway 43, west of Kemptville just east of Merrickville, all the way south to Throoptown on Highway 21. That’s a distance of about 22.56 km (14.02 miles). It is a lovely drive along mostly dirt roads.

We continued after the trip right down Bolton and Kyle Roads by driving back up to where Land O’Nod Road starts at Bolton Road.  Land O’Nod Road ends at Highway 15, south of Merrickville, a distance of 10.19 km (6.33 miles). Like the Bolton/Kyle Road trip, it is mostly dirt road and lovely. Don’tcha just love the name Land O’Nod Road? Makes me sleepy just thinking of it!

THE LAND OF NOD
(Robert Louis Stevenson)

From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay;
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the Land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do —
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the Land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

The round trip from Highway 43 down Bolton/Kyle, back up to Land O Nod Road, along Land O Nod, and up Highway 43 is about 65.64 km, give or take. If you add the kms for the trip from our house to the point on 43 where we turned to go down Bolton, which is about… 115.22 km so the total evening drive was about 180.86 which is a SHORT evening drive for us.

On the Bolton I stopped to take some photos of wildflowers. There was alfalfa which I had never seen in the wild before… or never seen in a field, either, for that matter. It looks a lot different dried in a bag or compressed into pellets for feeding gerbils. It is really pretty and looks like a sort of unkempt clover. Same family, I guess. The flowers are purple and mauve (pronounced “mowv,” not “mawv.” It’s a French word and you look like an idiot if you pronounce if mawv, no matter how many times you hear the likes of Martha Stewart or Oprah pronounce it [incorrectly]. And, in case you need to know “foyer” is pronounced “foy-ay” not “foy-er”. Again… it’s French and that’s how they pronounce it, so they ought to know).

Alfalfa

Birdfoot Trefoil, Red Clover

Just a short hop down Bolton, I spotted a turtle in the middle of the road. Since it didn’t appear that there was anything resembling turtle habitat either where it was headed or where it had come from, I picked it up off the road and drove along (quite some considerable distance) until I found the bridge over the Rideau River. I released it there.

It wasn’t terribly pleased to have been rescued but I think it would have been less pleased to have been run over by a 4×4… Every so often, it would start scrabbling in my hand (it was too powerful for Mom to hold) and try to get away… then it would pee on me, the steering wheel, the console, Mom…

I took some photos and identified it later as a Blanding’s turtle.

Blanding's Turtle (isn't he cute?!)

Continuing on our way, just about a mile down the road from releasing the first turtle, I spotted a Snapping turtle in the middle of the road…

Snapping Turtle

...not so cute...

It was a smallish one, about a foot wide and about a foot and a half long, not counting the tail and head. Knowing how fast and vicious they can be, I took a few photos and then looked for something to move it off the road with. The last time I encountered a Snapper on the road, it was about 3 times as big and so heavy that all we could do was bulldoze it to the side of the road. Even so, when it reared up, we were in danger of losing a finger!

This one being smaller, I figured if I could find a stick I could try the old Indian trick of getting it to bite on the stick and lifting it up and carrying it hanging from the stick. But since I couldn’t find the appropriate-sized stick (and, indeed, don’t know if this actually works, I resorted to using my car scraper/brush, flipping it on its back, and pushing it across the road. I  flipped it back over on the other side of the road into a field.

One thing about Snappers is that they STINK! Whether it’s because of their diet or the fact that they wallow in marshes, I don’t know.

Again, it didn’t appreciate the effort I had gone to but since a 4×4 went roaring by a few minutes after I moved it off the road, I think it was in its best interests to be moved. So there….

Snappers are endangered, here in Ontario, and you can make a report to the Ontario Department of Natural Resources, along with other endangered flora and fauna.

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