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Turtle, Raccoon, Deer Active After Sunday Rain

July 5th, 2009 · No Comments · deer, raccoon, Radnor Lake, turtles

smoky hills after Sunday rain at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee
Sunday, July 05, 2009
As every avid naturalist knows, certain times and conditions provide more wildlife observation opportunities than others. For instance, dawn and dusk are definitely notable for increased wildlife activity at a place like Radnor Lake, bursting at the seams with nature’s four-legged bounty.

Another such time is immediately following rain – especially a highly relieving rain after a sustained dry period. During the afternoon I was closely watching weather.com’s radar, planning to hit the trails at Radnor Lake just as the rain left the area, and I did just that. Sunday afternoon’s respectable, heavy, sustained rainstorm certainly seemed to bring out the critters of both the warm- and cold-blooded variety.

only car in the lot after Sunday rain at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee
I thought I was going to have hiking buddy Steve D. along, but this was not to be on this night.

The first condition of note – it stuck out like the proverbial swollen, purple, bloodied thumb – was that I was the only one parking my car on the west side! That’s right — there were no other cars in the entire parking lot: no Jeeps, no Beamers, not a single double-parked Lotus! I liked that. I had the place to myself, though not for very long. (Later, someone crept up behind me and nearly scared me to death.)

double parked Lotus at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee

This afternoon’s rain was a relatively prolonged soaker; I live only three or four miles from Radnor Lake, and it absolutely poured rain for over an hour there, so I figured Radnor Lake had received about as much precip. I was looking forward to seeing how much duckweed remained on the surface of the lake after such a downfall, and I also wondered whether it was enough rain to push the water up over the spillway and into Otter Creek. (It was — barely.)

turtle digs nesting hole on trail after Sunday rain at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee

On the trail just off the lot, en route to the spillway and just by the first bench came my first encounter. A turtle was almost finished digging a nesting hole with its hind legs and was probably about to start dropping eggs into the hole. Unfortunately, the turtle had selected a poor spot if she expected to remain undisturbed throughout the process. Turtles, like most other animals, sometimes do not take well to being bothered or surprised while they are trying to deliver their young or lay their eggs. I suspect it must be something like trying to relieve yourself when someone is talking to you, only worse!

turtle digs nesting hole on trail after Sunday rain at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee

The turtle stopped digging and drew her head into her shell as I walked up. Her hind legs were still down in the hole, but she stopped scooping out the dirt. She was perfectly still, perhaps wondering if I saw her – if indeed turtles can wonder that. I took a couple of shots and opted to leave her be, opting to check again on my way back to the car.

doe in otter creek at spillway after Sunday rain at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee

I thought about it as I walked: should I move the eggs to a safer location? That would be a flagrant violation of the rules. I decided I would let a local turtle researcher biologist know about the nest; after all, he has the card-carrying clearance necessary to move the eggs, if need be.

The next creature was a deer. Nothing special for Radnor Lake regulars, but this doe was in a fairly interesting spot; she was down in Otter Creek, and I had a good view of her from the spillway bridge. She ran downstream a ways when she saw me approaching the bridge, but then she paused to pose for me.

raccoon starts to climb a small tree at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee

The water level had risen just enough to flow over the spillway, but only in the small indented section in the middle of the spillway. The water had certainly been flowing more a few minutes earlier, as there was brown water tumbling down the cascades visible from the first (the newest) observation platform.

raccoon's eyes reflecting camera flash at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee

My next encounter was to be my personal favorite, as well as a personal first for me at Radnor Lake. Walking on the Lake Trail, just after crossing the longer bridge, I saw bushes moving and heard rustling just to my right. I did not see anything at first, for all the bushes and such, but a second later I saw that I had startled a hunting raccoon. I suppose the raccoon simply chose the closest tree to climb, but it was such a small tree it was almost humorous; I could have easily shaken it loose had I been so inclined. (Of course, I was not.)

raccoon climbing small tree at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee

The raccoon paused several times as it climbed the young tree to look over at me to see what I was doing, perhaps wishing I would shove off. It was almost too dark to get pictures, but as it turned out there was just enough light to make the flash unnecessary – a good thing, given how incredibly reflective the eyes of a raccoon are! (See pics.)

The raccoon climbed just about all the way to the top of the tree. Much further and the limbs would have been bending big-time. The raccoon was just so. . . well, so darn cute in that little tree, just staring at me, probably wondering why I was just staring at him. Or her.

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