Today at Kingsford – Warm weather catch-up

Garter snake

On the same lovely warm day a week ago that I spotted the various butterflies and day-flying moths, I also encountered a number of spring vertebrates. The first was this garter snake. It was just lying in the road, not moving, soaking up the same beautiful sunshine that I was. It seemed somewhat chubby, and I wondered if it might be a pregnant female. It seems rather unlikely, though, since snakes would only just be starting to mate now, and garter snakes gestate for 2-3 months before giving birth to live young (which are independent from birth). On the other hand, females can store viable sperm for multiple years, so would some perhaps make use of that to get a head start on gestation before emerging from the hibernaculum in the spring?

Turtle

Out on Eel Lake I spotted a turtle basking on a log. The water was open, but the ice wasn’t long gone, so I was a bit surprised to see the turtle out and active (if you can call sunbathing active) already. I couldn’t tell what species of turtle it was, and even after coming home and blowing up the photos I still couldn’t discern enough detail to give it an ID (I only had my 100mm lens on the camera, having decided to leave the 300mm at home, and couldn’t get close enough with the shorter lens). However, I did notice when I blew the photo up that there wasn’t just one turtle in the photo, but actually four. Click here for a larger version of the next photo.

Four turtles

There are five species of turtle in Frontenac Provincial Park and area: Blanding’s, Map, Painted, and Snapping Turtles, as well as Stinkpots. Blanding’s have yellow bellies and throats, which seem bright enough to be noticeable even at a distance, so I don’t think they’re those. Snappers are much more craggy. The ones in the photo don’t seem to have a dorsal ridge that Map turtles can show. Stinkpots have a very stumpy appearance with domed shells and thick necks. So I think that leaves Painted. But if I’m honest, I really don’t know for certain.

Fish (Northern Pike?)

And finally, not far from the log with the first turtle, I watched a fish splashing around in the shallows. I think there may actually have been two, but I couldn’t really tell for sure, since there was a fair bit of glare on the water from where I was standing. At one point one of them swam close enough that the fish’s shape could be seen in the shadowy patches, and I think it was a Northern Pike, a relatively common fish in our lakes. In the early spring pike will move into the weedy shallows around lake edges in order to spawn, and I have a feeling that’s what was going on in all the splashing in the shallows here. Wish I’d had my canoe and could’ve floated closer for a better look.

Fish (Northern Pike?)

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4 responses to “Today at Kingsford – Warm weather catch-up

  1. Nice afternoon – I think all of your ID’s are spot on. Nice to see the spawning pike!

    The muskies will be doing the same thing here an a few weeks.

  2. Definitely a painted turtle, there are lots of them around here.

  3. I didn’t know that garter snakes could save viable sperm for years! Wow. I’ve seen turtles out sunning where I live too, and all were Red-eared Sliders. Its great to see the landscape, animals and weather from Canada!

  4. What great sightings! We were just reading Sy Montgomery’s book (The Snake Scientist) on the red-sided garter snakes near Narcisse, Canada. We’ve yet to see our first snake down here, though we’re certainly keeping our eyes open! And the fish picture was so enticing — we’ll often see carp spawning in the Wisconsin River shallows, and the sight of their bodies just barely breaching the water’s surface always makes us want to wade out and get a closer look — or, as you note, take a canoe. =) Great pics!

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