Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One Last Paddle

I was hoping to get out for one last paddle in early October. Unfortunately, the weather would not cooperate or align with my schedule. Luckily, Curtis, a fellow paddler and turtle enthusiast called me and mentioned he would be in town and that the weather looked good. Well, it looked good for October. The plan was set in motion quickly.

We got out late in October. The day started sunny but ended cloudy with the threat of rain. It was not really all that warm out.

My brother David joined us. Here he is preparing for his first kayak experience.

The paddle was long and mostly uneventful. There was a large turtle that slid in early on, but no one could ID it. Curtis spotted another turtle later, and initially thought it was a woodie, but it turned out to be a large snapping turtle trying to soak up what little sunlight was available.

This river started out very tight and challenging. Dave was doing well and paddling cautiously. Unfortunately, like all people who paddle frequently know, flipping your boat can happen to the best of us. He was tricked by the overhanging branch that "looked flexible". He was swept into it and tried to push it out of the way. Well the branch didn't give an inch, and Dave was quickly upside down. It was not a good day to get wet and he left his change of dry cloathes in the car. I lent him a jacket though and luckily he did fine as we still had more than half our paddle to go.

 Soon after, I was paddling under an overhanging tree trunk. The trunk was about 6 or 7 feet off the water. Right as I went under it there was scurrying sound from above and then a loud plop and splash about 6-12 inches off the right of my boat. I though someone threw a large rock at me. Turns out Curtis caught a view of a plastron shell as it dropped out of the tree above me and almost landed in my boat! I wish it had as we never could ID that turtle as well. Odd stuff happening in October...

The paddle was getting long, the sun had traded with the clouds hours ago and we were getting tired and cold. Finally a mud bank held our prey, a lonely wood turtle basking in the evening light. This was a new county for me and made our day.

I doubt I will paddle for turtles again this year. Some of my records show it was a banner season. I paddled around 41 hours and 95 river miles over the course of 10 paddles on 9 different rivers. The turtles were frequent but not always a sure thing. More importantly I explored a ton of new ground. Can't wait for spring already...

Happy Herping!