Critters, daughters & other wonders of nature

Newberry Fairfield 19 20 May 2013 283

Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.

Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.

(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)

Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.

While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.

The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.

After about 10 minutes of no movement except the mother circling and squawking, I recalled many years earlier when I’d captured some baby quail.

It occurred to me that the poults were probably like quail in that they wouldn’t budge until their mother gave them the “all clear” signal, so I began to stealthily work my way through the brush.

Me, holding the captive poult.

Me, holding the captive poult.

All the while, I could hear the hen circling, her thickly padded feet thumping each time she crossed the road.

Over time, her circle grew larger, which led me to believe I was still in the right area and she was desperate to distract me from her brood.

After about 20 minutes I was beginning to believe I’d been outsmarted, especially given the denseness of the brush and the ability of wild animals to blend in with habitat when necessary.

Then I saw it, hunched down in a small divot surrounded by pine needles: a baby.

It knew I was right behind it, but didn’t move, enabling me to gently scoop it up. It was covered in a soft down, caramel and white in color, and, not surprisingly, its eyes were quite large as I cupped my hands around it.

I brought it out of the brush and called to my daughter, who was taking pictures of the hen. She, as might be expected of a 12-year-old girl, practically melted at the sight of the poult.

I will say it was considerably cuter than the glass lizard we had caught earlier in the day.

After I let her hold it for a couple of minutes, during which time we studied its markings and looked at its already sturdy feet, we put it down and watched it scamper off into the brush.

The mother continued to circle, albeit with less speed and enthusiasm. She’d probably figured if we’d let one of the poults go we couldn’t be very serious predators.

We then got in the car and proceeded off down the country road, enabling mother and babies to reunite, and allowing us to contemplate the beauty of God’s creation.

Mama turkey, circling as Daughter No. 4 takes photos.

Mama turkey, circling as Daughter No. 4 takes photos.

Daughter No. 4, having rescued a Eastern Box Turtle from the middle of the road. Both were enjoying a good joke.

Daughter No. 4, having rescued an Eastern Box Turtle from the middle of a country road. Both were enjoying a good joke.

Hay!

Hay!

Old house showing square nail.

Old house showing square nail.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

More wildflowers

More wildflowers

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16 thoughts on “Critters, daughters & other wonders of nature

  1. Sounds like fun, with the exception of the snake and lizard. 🙂 The poult is adorable. We’ve seen quite a few turkeys lately usually out in the farm fields, but never any babies.

  2. I agree with Bruce re the variety of your writing.

    My response though is mostly to apologize for being out of touch for so long and not following up as promised on the info concerning Edmund Ruffin but it seems one thing after another has been affecting my life here lately. My 85 year old mother took a spill getting out of bed and then there has been complication after complication – bad knee that is very arthritic has been a detriment to getting her up and about; then she became dehydrated and had to be re-admitted to the hospital mostly just for hydration (she was approaching renal failure). My wife and I are with her and have been for almost two weeks which is, of course, a hardship on my wife’s job (my mom lives about 65 miles away from us in the Hampton Roads area or Tidewater, VA). I do hope to get back into circulation soon but this situation has been consuming all of my time.

  3. What a great collection of photos. 😀 your daughter looks so happy, what a great day you must have had. I can imagine how thrilled she was when you turned up with the fluffy baby, it would have been almost impossible to get my boys to leave it behind!

    • Oh, it wasn’t easy to let it go, but I relied on the old “you don’t want it to have to leave its family behind, do you?” trick. Works every time. I can remember my mom using that with me and it worked back then, too.

      Last year I took them down to a river and I sneaked up on a family of Canada geese and managed to catch one of the babies. I had three of my girls with me then and it took a lot of cajoling to get them to go along with letting it go. I think what worked was something like “What if you were that baby and someone took you and you could never see your parents again?” Worked like a charm.

      • They are the exact arguments we use with the kids! “Imagine that was you and you never got to see us again?” Or “imagine if that creature has babies at home waiting, they will die if their mum doesn’t come home to look after them”. Thank goodness it has worked every time, otherwise the garden would be full of tiny little graves, overflowing with guilt!

  4. Pingback: How I outfoxed a 6-ounce bird and four eggs | The Cotton Boll Conspiracy

  5. Pingback: When Cain and Abel joined Adam and Eve at the Last Supper | The Cotton Boll Conspiracy

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