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Summer At The Lake
Western Pond Turtles
By mid September, the lake's water level has dropped several feet.
The warm shallows attract pond turtles.
If they remain in shallow water, they could be vulnerable to predators.
But pond turtles are resourceful. They find unusual places to bask.
A pair of turtles near the shoreline. Pond turtles are reptiles and therefore need to raise their body temperature to be active.
Pond or "Mud" turtles' legs are strong with long claws for digging cavities in wet or dry soil.
Their excavations turn the water muddy.
While photographing this shoreline leaf, I failed to notice a turtle watching me.
In full sun, shoreline mud retains heat. Pond turtles excavate cavities beneath it to warm themselves.
Joined by a second turtle, it is likely the ceiling of this turtle's mud cavern is pie-crust thin.
Looking like a clod of mud, a pond turtle enjoys its warm hiding place.
Another angle shows how well pond turtles blend into shoreline mud.
A turtle's head pops up an inch from the shoreline. Its basking cavern is directly in the foreground.
At least 10 pond turtles were engaged in this mud-cavern behavior.
As long as I kept my distance, they ignored my pre sense.
Shoreline vegetation eaten or trampled by grazing cattle. Several of the lake's turtles bare the marks of injuries to their shells,
possibly from being trampled upon while basking beneath mud along the shoreline.
Still lots of nectar-rich tarweed flowers to attract insects like this Mylitta Crescent butterfly.
Variegated dragonflies are summer fliers and often seen foraging far from water sources.
A small flock of mallards favor this end of the lake.
They are the first to leave when I arrive.
They take to the sky flying low, picking up speed and elevation with every wing beat.
Flying across the hillside on the far side of the lake, they soon top the ridge and disappear.
Set aside for the public. Protected from development. A haven for wildlife.
For additional information: Secret Lives of Western Pond Turtles: .ppt (2.76MB) .pdf (177kb)
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