Rich’s favorite part of our Callaway Gardens vacations is seeing the many turtles in the lakes. The two best places to see turtles are in the lake right outside the Discovery Center, and at the little pavilion by Mockingbird Lake. We also saw them sunning themselves on a log in the middle of Hummingbird Lake several times in the late afternoon, prompting Rich to unofficially change the name of the lake to Turtle Lake.
The turtles at the Discovery Center are certainly accustomed to being fed. There are food dispensers along the bridge, and the fish, turtles, and ducks come flocking whenever they hear the machines being operated. When Rich threw pellets into the water, aiming at the turtles, quite often the fish or ducks beat the poor turtles to the food. So we shook our pellets into a little bag and took them over to Mockingbird Lake, where the fish were less pushy and there were no ducks to steal the food. So the turtles fared better there.
When Rich first started throwing in the pellets, he attracted one or two turtles. But word spread quickly, and we started to see turtle heads popping up halfway across the lake. By the time we’d been there 15 minutes (throwing in the pellets slowly and one at a time to make the fun last longer), a crowd of at least 30 turtles had amassed. Probably more – it was hard to count.
There were a bunch of smaller turtles. We weren’t sure if they were babies, or just a smaller variety of turtle. They got shoved out of the way often by the larger turtles – you should have heard the shells knocking together when three, four, or five turtles all dove for the same pellet! So Rich started to target the small turtles, waiting until they were by themselves, and throwing the pellets directly at their mouths. Even so, the adults got the food more often than not.
Rich let out a cheer each time a small turtle actually swallowed a pellet. I stood on the dock, trying to photograph the turtles as they dove for the food. To my surprise, I managed to get a baby turtle just as he looked at the camera and swallowed a pellet. The white food is visible in his throat. Now that was luck!
So Rich got his “turtle fix”…for what vacation is complete without seeing turtles? :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Callaway Gardens?
Check out my Callaway Gardens page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
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