My friend Debbie came up a few weekends ago and we ended up at Orlando Wetlands Park. We had a great time photographing the ducks and wading birds in their breeding plumage. I’ll write more about that later. But our best find of the morning (at least, according to my turtle-loving husband Rich) was this snapping turtle. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s a snapping turtle! We first spotted him in a culvert. As big as he is, you’d think we’d have noticed him right away, but he was pretty stealthy. He climbed up on some rocks, seeming to enjoy the water rushing around them. We thought he would crawl up onto the nearby bank, but he surprised us. He instead threw himself into the current, which washed him away. I was a little disappointed not to get a good picture of him. Time passed, and we went back to photographing birds. As we got up to leave, guess what I saw?
The snapping turtle was back! This time he did crawl up onto the bank. Look at him! Those big claws, the spikes on his neck, the spots on his tail! He’s the closest thing I’ll see to a dinosaur. He moved pretty fast for a turtle. He walked up the bank and crossed the path. A crowd gathered around him to gawk. He didn’t seem to mind.
It was fun to watch the people watching the turtle. Kids and adults alike gathered to watch him. Park volunteers warned the crowds to stay away and give him plenty of space. Nobody stopped to ask why the turtle crossed the road. And the turtle himself didn’t seem to have a good reason – he stopped in the middle of the path to bask in the sun. I took advantage of his lack of motion to take several close-ups that I could then stitch together into a panorama in Photoshop. I really liked the result:
One of the questions that I get most frequently about my blog is, “why is called cat and turtle?” Where are the cats and turtles? Well, I started the blog around the time that Rich and I got married (almost ten years ago now, yikes!) I love cats and he loves turtles, so it was a fun domain name for our personal homepage. Then my cat Goldilocks inspired us to buy a bird feeder, and a few years later, I was totally obsessed. But I do still try to post about the cats and turtles that were the original inspiration for the blog and for my photography. Rich fusses at me when too much time goes back without a turtle post. So here you go, Rich, a very fun turtle!! :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Orlando Wetlands Park?
Check out my Orlando Wetlands Park 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!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!
Oh, that was such a fun day for sure! Remember when we spotted him when we were getting ready to leave? That dang think could have walked right up to us, he was that close. How did we not see him? LOL. Great shots Jess! Looking forward to our next shoot … wonder what we’ll find that day!
Rich must be in heaven with this find! This species is truly from the age of the dinosaurs.