Sunday, May 31, 2009

Landfill Wildlife

Birds are not the only animals of interest on the landfill. To my surprise, there are a lot of different varieties of turtles and they are quite numerous. Along every drainage ditch there are at least a couple dozen turtles sunning themselves on the bank or hanging out in the water with just their snouts poking out. It is difficult to get a good look at them at times because they slink into the water when the truck approaches.

Red-eared Slider

Smooth Softshell Turtle

Snapping Turtle

There have been a variety of snakes seen as well, such as: Black Racer, Black Kingsnake, and a Northern Water Snake cruising down the same ditches holding all the turtles. Five-lined Skinks are numerous around the wooded parts of the landfill on fallen logs.

Black Racer

Five-lined Skink

There have been other cool sightings that have not been captured on film unfortunately. There is a resident Red Fox that has been seen a couple times. The last time I noticed him he was walking along the hill where we had traps set out to sample small mammals. I assumed he was walking that hill looking for an easy meal. I don't know how much luck he had because we barely caught anything, or maybe we the fox was just robbing the traps before we could get to them.

There are aquatic critters too...though not as many as there used to be. The beaver population is dropping because Brian (my supervisor) has had to kill five because they keep building up dams and flooding the equipment on the landfill. It is amazing how high they can build those dams up in such little time. Muskrats are also present in the wetlands along with the beaver. But perhaps the most interesting find so far on the landfill was a River Otter. After we had extended periods of rain in mid May, the wetlands and ditches were as full as I've ever seen them. I found the otter in what amounted to a drainage ditch with three feet of vegetation on each side, and he was snacking on something, possible a carp. I have since found out that there have only been 19 otter sightings in Jefferson County in the last three years, most of those records coming from trapping.

And just because I took this picture and wanted to share.

Blue Grosbeak


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