Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18, 2018 - The Eggs are Hatching

The nourishment from the bounty of the spring season and the hard work of the locals is paying off for them with new life bursting from their eggs.  Although the loons on Lake Wicwas have not yet nested, other loons saw their chicks break out of their shells this week, including the pair on Pleasant Lake.  Kittie Wilson always watches this pair and documents their life through beautiful photography.
Ping sneaks a peak out from under her parent's wing.  Kittie Wilson photo

Pong hatched second, and is still wet from the egg.   Kittie Wilson photo
Yes, the chicks have been named Ping and Pong;  the pictures Kittie takes are simple amazing.
Ping and Pong go for a sail.  Kittie Wilson photo

Nap time for Pong.  Kittie Wilson photo

Because the Pleasant Lake loons have the luxury of a floating nest they don't have to wait for the water level in the lake to stabilize.  Due to all the rain this spring, it's been a slow process on Lake Wicwas, but it now appears to be stable enough for nesting.  It is late, but not too late;  even if a pair has a failed first nesting they have time to try again, though a later nesting usually has only one chick to improve the chances of it growing strong enough to fly away before winter.  We're still hoping for baby loons on Lake Wicwas in 2017.

I've had reports of other baby birds being sighted, though I haven't seen any yet.  Let me know if you see any young fledglings around the lakes.

While bird eggs are already hatching, reptiles, being cold blooded, must wait a bit longer than their warm-blooded counterparts, holding off until the ground has warmed enough that they can lay their eggs, then abandon them, allowing the sun and earth to keep them warm enough to develop.  I've seen several female painted turtles doing their thing in the sand this week; this pretty girl was near the east shore of Marion Cove.
Keep your eye out for little turtles around August 20th
And this one I plucked out of the middle of Chemung Road to save her from becoming road kill on her search for the perfect nesting location.
When rescuing a turtle, always move them to the side of the road in which they are heading

Neil Crimins often sees the much larger Snapping Turtle laying eggs in the sand in front of their house;  he saw this mom this week.
Mother snapper in the sand.  Neil Crimins photo

Reading about snapping turtles I learned some fascinating facts related to snapping turtle eggs  [REF: Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection].  First, eggs at a temperature of 68 degrees produce only female turtles, while eggs at 73-75 degrees produce only male turtles!  In between, both males and females will result.  While they incubate in the sand the eggs are prime targets for a wide range of predators including raccoons, skunks, and crows.  Neil reports that most years that's what happens to the nests they watch, finding them dug up and egg shells left behind, but sometimes a few of the 20 to 40 eggs manage to survive and make it to the water.
A baby snapper crawls out of the sand.  Neil Crimins photo

Nearing the comparative safety of the lake.  Neil Crimins photo

At this point their shells are soft and they are vulnerable to a new set of predators such as eagles, foxes, and snakes.  Neil once saw a heron fly in and watch the little turtles crawling to the water but it didn't take any.  And even in the lake they still aren't safe until their shells harden, so they are subject to the appetites of fish and even other snappers.  Thank you Neil for the great pictures!

Once their shells harden they are pretty much impervious to any attack short of a car tire when they emerge to start the process all over again.
Snapping turtles in NH can grow to 40 pounds - here a big momma crosses Chemung Rd

Their eggs hatch in 80 to 90 days, so we won't be looking for new snappers until early September.  Hopefully we'll be seeing new loons long before then!

Of course the dads have a part in all this, so Happy Father's Day to all!

No comments:

Post a Comment