5.24.10 Creature Feature: Swamp Things

Turtle 790 xxx
This weekend was full of interesting animal friends. Pulling off the road to get a closer look at some baby geese, we wound up near a swampy pond where we saw a big osprey nest poised on top of a tall, limbless dead tree. With the binoculars, we could just make out the top of somebody's head and then, sure enough, mama (or daddy?) came swooping in with a big fish dangling from its talons! And just then, lumbering across the field and heading straight for the water was this big dame—a snapping turtle with a long tail like an alligator's, big beady eyes and plenty of attitude. She must have weighed about 20+ pounds, but they can get up to 45!
Eggs 790 xxx
Nearby were several spots like these; her little ones had hatched and moved on. Snapping turtles can lay up to 83 eggs at a time.Just as we were about to drive off, we spotted the most brilliant flash of blue—the Eastern bluebird!  This feathered friend has fallen into decline in the last couple of decades, so we were thrilled to catch a glimpse of its vivid plumage.


Well, these Eastern fauna-adventures are most impressive, but for sheer iconic Western exoticism, I have a doozy for you. In the Jewish Cemetery of Santa Cruz, CA, where I was visiting our parents' June & Joseph's graves with our sister Sarita and a friend, Cora, yesterday at dusk, a coyote crossed our path! He is clearly my totem: I wrote about a coyote-sighting in the last chapter of my book, but mostly, people can hardly believe I really saw him. This time, I had two witnesses. Close, yellow-eyed, wary and curious at the same time. He loped away, casually, a bit cocky, looking over his shoulder at us all the while. Stunning, eerie, and very site-appropriate.
Hambrienta on May 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm —
Excellent sighting! Most thrilling. We see their scat up here all the time but have never come across one in the flesh. I did see one when I lived in Silverlake, skulking about the reservoir and it, too, had yellow eyes...
laura on May 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm —