Baby Red-Eared Slider

Wednesday, August 2, 2017,

We haven’t done any major cuteness here in a while so maybe we’re due. This little guy is a baby Red-eared Slider. This year’s model for certain. Unless you’re viewing this post on your Smart Phone, you’re seeing a larger than life image. Its shell is barely an inch long, if that.

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These are good-looking turtles from the get-go. And that, unfortunately, is the reason they are here on Long Island and many other northern freshwater ponds and rivers. I’ve photographed them as far north as Maine. It’s illegal to sell them now but years ago these southern-based turtles were mainstays of any pet store you walked into. Most stores would have a display right there at the check-out counter. The whole kit came complete with the baby turtle, a one gallon terrarium (yes, you read that right), and a plastic palm tree. What the nice folks behind the counter didn’t mention was that these beautiful little turtles did not remain so little. In only a few years they did not only outgrow that tiny terrarium but they grew bigger than the terrarium itself. The once cute little turtle no longer fits on a convenient shelf in a bedroom. This poses a problem.

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So what does one do with a child’s beloved pet when there’s no longer any room at the inn? Well, the answer for far too many folks, and for far too long, was to release these once loved animals into the wild. The reasoning was “It’ll be with its friends. It’s where it belongs.” The problem with that line of thought was that they did not belong here. Red-ears are a southern species of turtle but despite that they have thrived here and in many other places where they just shouldn’t be. There are now laws in place restricting the sale and release of these turtles (even in Florida) but the damage has already been done. This cute little guy wasn’t born in a pet shop, nor, probably, were his parents. For good or bad, these turtles are now a part of our Long Island landscape. There are so many of them that they are crowding out many of our own native species, including the even more beautiful Eastern Painted Turtle. Every year, on every freshwater pond, lake, or river, I see more invasive turtles than the very species that belong here. There’s something a whole lot wrong with that picture.  JK      


Two Generations of Red Ears

Tuesday, May 9, 2017,


This is a pair of Red-eared Sliders that I saw at Frank Melville Park in Setauket. To be honest, I never noticed the little guy till I was reviewing my shots when I got home. To the uninitiated this might seem like an obvious choice for a Mother’s Day post. Unfortunately, there is no real reason to believe that these two turtles are related. Like most other turtle species, Red-eared Sliders make their nests and lay their eggs, and that’s it. It’s a system that works for them. This is a species of turtle that doesn’t belong this far north but they have been conquering new territory thanks mostly to the pet trade, despite the fact that it is no longer legal to sell Red-eared Sliders in New York. Unfortunately, these turtles were able to establish themselves in our waters long before any such sanctions took place. Nature has no need to wait for politicians to take notice of the obvious. JK

A Red-Bellied Turtle Wearing Algae

Thursday, September 12, 2013,

This is a female Red-bellied Turtle that I saw resting along the Lower Carmans River. Her carapace, (that’s upper shell to folks like you and me), appears to be covered with some sort of algae. I’m not sure if this is a lifestyle comment or a fashion statement. It’s not my place to judge. JK




Beauty And The Bee

Saturday, August 11, 2012,

I was kayaking on a freshwater pond in Maine last week and managed to capture these shots of a bee visiting a water lily flower. I’m sorry that at this point I cannot tell you the specific species of water lily represented here or even if its native to the area. Apparently, many water lilies are invasives and have been planted for ornamental purposes. On the other hand, upon entering the state of Maine, there are signs asking boaters to be sure that their boats are clean and free of any plant matter from other areas or states. so Maine is a state that is concerned with its ecosystem and that, dear reader, is a very good thing. It’s good for Maine and good for all of us. There are way too many invasive species wreaking havoc across the country.

Wait a minute. We’re looking a pics of a flower, right? Let me step down from this soapbox and let’s enjoy some pollination on the pond. These are really pretty flowers, and anything that attracts bees these days can’t be a bad thing. All across the world, bees are disappearing at a rather alarming rate. Oh, crap. There I go again. Way too many soapboxes to stand on these days, especially for us nature lovers.

Lets get back on topic anyways, okay? Here’s another shot of the same bee visiting that same flower. Gosh, I love reflections. JK



Praying Mantis During The Bird Walk

Thursday, September 15, 2011,

The Four Harbors chapter of the Audubon Society had our monthly walk at Avalon this past Saturday morning. We meet every second Saturday at the Duck Pond at Stony Brook. If you’ve never been to Avalon, this makes for a great free tour. You don’t need to know Jack about birds to join us but you may come away with an education. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. Much.

And you won’t just learn about birds, either. Many of our regular walkers are very knowledgeable about plants as well as a myriad of other subjects. I’ve got lousy hearing but I’m always trying to eavesdrop on conversations to learn little tidbits. I’ve been playing in the woods since I was five and I used to think I knew a lot about our local wildlife but I learn more and more at each of these walks. It’s great. A good deal of this kind of information is not easily found in books or even online. Plus, it’s a very enjoyable way to spend a morning.

Oh yeah. About the Mantis. That’s what this post is about, right? Well, despite the previous paragraph, I had to consult books and online resources. And I managed to learn something. Maybe it’s new to you too. This is a Chinese Mantis. The size alone – this one was at least 3.5 inches long – tells us this. These guys are an introduced species from, yes, China.  Since their debut in 1895 these guys have become fairly common in the northeast. They were brought here as a form of pest control and there is no doubt that they are very capable predators. There is even documentation of of hummingbirds being taken by these critters. That’s impressive. Not pretty, but impressive. JK.