Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Right Place...Right Time!
This past weekend our gang of Reptilian Enthusiasts headed to northeastern Ohio for two days of intense filming. Dual location stops on the schedule always makes for an interesting time, The Holden Arboretum, located in Kirtland, Ohio and The Rookery in Newbury, Ohio were our exploration destinations.
This was our second official shooting date at Holden's and one of our best filming experiences yet. The Rookery was more of a scouting trip and we loved what we found...the plan is to return to this location in August to film a full segment.
The adventure began about 7:00 Saturday morning and right from the start things were interesting. A large Snapping Turtle was spotted in a small pond behind Holden's visitor center...we moved in to make a catch...but the turtle some how eluded us...it was one of those head scratchers where you say to yourself..."How the heck did this beast run the coop on us?" Oh well...the morning was young and the challenges were only going to get trickier.
After filming a few frog segments we headed toward a body of water that had less plant life growing in it. This has its pros and its cons...pros being with less plant life large turtles are easier to spot...cons...Snapping Turtles are incredibly fast swimmers, especially in open water...so making a capture here was going to be a very difficult thing. It was going to get muddy and without question it was going to be DANGEROUS!
Early on we had two really great oportunites to make catches...following bubble trails on the waters surface we slowly tracked a first and then second Snapping Turtle. Both encounters began with me running from the shore and diving head first into the water after the elusive creatures...ending with nothing but hands full of mud and broken confidence. Despite the fact that it is always a bummer to miss on a catch...sometimes it really makes great footage to show that we don't always get the animal we are after.
As the day went on we captured a beautiful Northern Water Snake...all in all it was the best NWS segment we have shot to date.
Watching as the snake swam in from the middle of pond right down to a game of cat and mouse on the shore line until I made a running sideways dive into the water to barely grab hold of the serpent just before it disappeared into the murky abyss.
By late afternoon we were getting ready to call it a day...the sun was draining and the temperatures were pushing 90 degrees. Most of the animals had hunkered down from the drudging heat and our team was beaten, bruised and bitten from the snake segments and failed Snapper attempts.
In a last effort we took a peek along the edge of one last bog, ready to call it a day when camera man Chammp Swaggerty called out..."right there...somethings moving...what is that?" I was quick to pop up the binoculars and just as I did the enormous carapace of a Snapping Turtle breached the duckweed covered bog top. "That's a Snapping Turtle...and its a big one!" I began to intro the segment, setting up the precarious scenario before us, and then it was go time. The turtle came to a rest with just its nose above the surface of the water...quickly getting into position we set up the catch and the action began. To keep the story short...and the real adventure for the episode lets just say this, to date, this past weekend's Snapping Turtle encounter, capture and filming has been the best yet! This encounter was truly a "Right Place...at the Right Time" sort of thing.
Here are some pictures of the beast...35lbs, 15 inch carapace. Not a world record but a pretty sizable animal. The difficulties of the environment and the fight this animal put up during capture probably put another 30 lbs on it all, making for one heck of a segment.
Wrestling this monster from a waist deep sink bog resulted in cuts, scrapes and some disgustingly large leeches! At one point there were 12 on my legs.
Because why wouldn't you want to get the camera this close to an animal that can take your finger off with a single chomp! One of our favorite shots to get with these animals, once they have calmed down, is the up close look into the eye of a true prehistoric beast.
The weekend was an incredible success. In addition to what you see here the team also captured several Bull Frogs and two awesome Midland Painted Turtles. For a complete set of this weekends adventure photos check out our Facebook page!
Special thanks goes out to everyone who helped us this past weekend and photo credits go to field biologist Rick Rozic, field photographer Zoom LeFluer and graphic designer Lonnie Ross...you guys did an awesome job...the pics speak for themselves!
I'm Coyote Peterson and this...is The REPTILE Show!