By Mark Reese
A common joke that goes around includes the question: Why did the turtle cross the road? The common answer is to get to the other side. If you are like me and travel about the back roads this year you have seen an abundance of terrapin turtles on the road and occasionally a snapping turtle as well.
The answer to the question-to get to the other side-may be quite right. The turtle is an old species, even pre-dating the dinosaurs. Right now, or just recently, they are in the midst of their mating season. They move from pond to pond or wet ditch to another and the males mate as much as possible. Once the female is full of fertilized eggs she will seek out a spot of sun and drainage. Later in the summer, you will see some of these hatchlings crossing the road looking for water or a new home. And in late fall they look for places of winter hibernation. So if you see terrapins crossing the road keep them pointed in the direction they are going. They know what they are doing.
Another species that crosses the road frequently causes accidents. The whitetail deer causes more automobile damage than just about anything else in the state of Kentucky. Deer are attracted to places of food such as your garden or fields but the edge of road ways also provides some pretty good forage for them. Many roadside plants are attractive to their palate. Deer also like salt and most roadways contain remnants of salt that is utilized for winter road treatment. Although I have seen many deer along the roadways recently, the peak month for vehicle collisions is November during the rut season. The second peak time is May-June when the does drive off last year’s offspring in favor of the present season of fawns.
Another wildlife species I have seen and definitely heard from recently is the mockingbird. The different calls exclaimed from these birds is amazing. Most of the singing comes from the males, and it enhances their ability to woo a mate. An individual repertoire of over 150 songs has been recorded from a single mockingbird. They are also able to imitate other sounds, even that of a barking dog. If they were human they could make good money on stage and screen.
Finally, I saw a flock of ducks on the river while fishing the other day. These were ducks I had not seen before. Research found them to be the common merganser which is a duck of rivers and streams. This is not normally their range of country, but they are similar to our native wood duck in that they like mountainous terrain and normally nest in a tree cavity. They are a partial migratory bird, and we are just below the southern end of their range. They will hang around when the waters stay open through the winter season.
Being outdoors exposes you to many different sights, sounds, and situations. There is a lot of anxiety produced in today’s world with not much relief in sight. There is one antidote that always works for me, and I believe it will work for others, and that is to immerse yourself in the vast fields, forests, and streams that surround us. Seeing sights such as these soothes the soul. After a day afield you realize that everything is right with the world after all. No joke!