During the visit of the BRMN to our farm on Sunday some eagle-eyed hikers spotted not one but three baby box turtles along a trail adjacent to Solomon Creek. This is an extremely rare observation since young box turtles are very rarely seen. I see adults commonly but almost never such young turtles (see photo). One turtle appeared to be about 3 years old from the growth rings on the carapace and the other two probably one year younger. They may find this level roadway with sunny spots an attractive place to feed but in the future I will have to be very careful about walking here and particularly in mowing this area! In one sense this roadway represents a “gap” in the forest which can be attractive to some species.
A second rare observation during the same walk was hearing a prairie warbler singing in an area of second growth pine and hardwood trees and bushes. This is only the second time we have heard this warbler on our farm in the Spring. The area is one we have designated as a “gap” in which we maintain vegetation in an early stage of succession especially for gap-preferring species. It is very hard to stop forest succession however and a lot of hand-cutting of saplings is involved. But the reward is having chats, Kentucky warblers, whip-poor-wills and woodcocks among other birds using the area. Maybe we will be lucky enough to attract a breeding pair of prairie warblers someday- perhaps this male was looking for a female, although this would seem to be very late.
Bill Dunson, Englewood, FL & Galax, VA