Saturday, July 2, 2011

Long Point Provincial Park

Two weeks ago my family joined about 15 others from our church for a weekend of camping at Long Point Provincial Park.  Great weather, great fellowship, and great surroundings made for a great time!  

The park is known for being a bird migration stop point as it protrudes into Lake Erie, providing a quicker route to a resting point for many birds making a long flight across the long expanse of water.  It may not be quite as famous as Point Pelee, but also gets many visitors.

We were there past the migration period, but I still saw some birds less commonly sighted around home.  Others were more common sights... an American Robin (usually just referred to as a Robin).

American Robin Fledgling - able to fly already.
American Robin Fledgling - calling for lunch.

American Robin - coming with lunch.

 Another common Southern Ontario bird - the Killdeer.  This bird is known for its very obvious tactic of trying to draw away the threat from the nest.  It fakes a broken wing, dragging on on the ground, fluttering around like it can't take off, and running away, hoping it will be followed away from the eggs.  The nest is on the ground which seems a mistake.  However, if you have ever tried, you'll know it is very hard to find the eggs.  They are well camoflaged, usually in a cluster of four in a little depression in the ground, made by arranging simply what is there already.  Unlike most other birds, the young are born able to see, run around and find food themselves when born.

Killdeer nest and eggs.
Killdeer and nest.
Protecting the nest.
Protecting the nest.

Spotted quite a large painted turtle while out for a little hike with the kids.
CORRECTION... a reader (check out his blog) corrected me on this turtle - apparently its a Northern Map Turtle, a threatened species here in Ontario.  Except for the ticks in the grass, I guess I should have lingered there a little longer.  Thanks for the info Kyle!

Northern Map Turtle - Peaking out.

The kids came over one evening from the playground with tales of a huge turtle laying eggs.  The park was quickly becoming spotted with flagged off areas for turtle nests - seems it was time for turtle nesting.  The kids' find was a medium size snapping turtle which had chosen near to the bottom of the playground slide for her location - it became the latest marked of area.  Turtles will find a soft soiled or sandy spot to dig a hole with their hind legs, lifting up the sand, then pushing it back and away.

Snapping Turtle finishing her nest hole.
Turtles go into a trance when laying their eggs, and seem quite oblivious of the goings on around them.  I didn't keep count, but this turtle had to have laid more than  20 eggs.  It was hard to tell, but at the beginning, it looked like she caught the egg with one of her legs which was down the hole, then she placed it on the growing pile.  After being covered, the eggs incubate from the heat of the ground, the amount time depending on the temperature.  One interesting fact: the females can retain the sperm from the male for a few years to use at will later if it is not a good time for raising young (ie. drought, etc.).

One of the round, white eggs being laid.
Snapping turtles are unable to fully retract themselves into their shells like most other turtles, so they were given the ability to reach quickly and quite far with their long necks with quite a forceful snap of their jaws.  They also use this to surprise and reach prey which unsuspectingly, swim by after snappy's settled into the mud or weeds in a pond or lake.

I'll post pictures of some of the other birds I saw soon...


  1. Your painted turtle is actually a Northern Map Turtle, a threatened species here in Ontario. Nice find! Some great shots too!


  2. Thanks for the correction Kyle! Good to have people who know their stuff. I'll correct that. I thought it was pretty large for a painter.

  3. You can see the map on his shell. So you dont have to go to the tropics to see a turtle lay eggs... its right in our back yard. Nice photos Brian.


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