Stinkpots and Snappers

July 10, 2015

Earlier this spring, Joyce and I set out for a hike at Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR). Our plan was a brisk walk with no photography on my part, but at the last minute I attached my camera and a 300 mm lens to my Black Rapid R-Strap, an innovative shoulder system that allows you to carry a heavy camera and lens with ease, and ready for quick shooting. I mentioned to Joyce that I didn’t plan on photographing anything on the hike, but I was better safe than sorry.

It turns out I made a good decision because near the end of our three-mile walk up and down the hills of SNR, Joyce spotted a smallish and unique-looking turtle basking on some moss under a cedar tree near Pinetum Lake. A closer look revealed a common musk turtle, or what most people like to call, a stinkpot!

I’d never seen a stinkpot before, except in brochures, but the identification came to my mind almost immediately for unknown reasons. A quick check on my iPhone and a good whiff of the musky odor around the little beast solidified my identification, as did the barbels emanating from under the turtle’s chin. As you might suspect, it wasn’t long before I was on my belly in the wet grass trying to get a nice image.

Stinkpots are described as semi-aquatic in the literature, even though they look much like a terrestrial turtle. I understood the semi-aquatic definition when this fella got tired of watching me watch him and high-tailed it across the shoreline and back into Pinetum Lake. I’d never seen a box turtle move that fast! By that time I had some good images in the bag, and more than a few reminders from Joyce that she was the one who discovered the stinkpot.

The second image is from another walk that I took at SNR, also with only my 300 mm lens and camera hanging from the R-Strap. As you can see, it is of a common snapping turtle as it was heading cross country near the wetland area.


I suppose it was off to lay its eggs for the spring, or just exploring new territory. Who knows? I just felt fortunate to have spotted such a beauty, on my own by the way, and to have been carrying the 300 mm lens instead of the gargantuan hunk of glass that I usually tote. As always with creatures such as this, I hit the ground flat for an image with the eye-level point of view I harp about in workshops. I was happy when the snapper raised its head for a better look at me; that was the shot of the day.

So…..I’m two for two on cool-looking turtles when carrying the smaller, lighter 300 mm lens. But this doesn’t mean I’ll be carrying the more convenient rig in the future, especially considering the reduced number of views I expect from this edition as compared to that of the likes of songbirds, foxes, ducks and otters. It was nice, though, to have some weight off my shoulder for a few days.

Thanks for looking,


Gallery of Images:  Here

Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

6 comments on “Stinkpots and Snappers”

  1. Love these shots Danny, esp. the snapper. You are so funny . . . that tiny 300 is my BIG lense 🙂 Kevin

    From: Nature Frames To: Sent: Friday, July 10, 2015 10:42 AM Subject: [New post] Stinkpots and Snappers #yiv6104830856 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6104830856 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6104830856 a.yiv6104830856primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6104830856 a.yiv6104830856primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6104830856 a.yiv6104830856primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6104830856 a.yiv6104830856primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6104830856 | Danny Brown posted: “July 10, 2015Earlier this spring, Joyce and I set out for a hike at Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR). Our plan was a brisk walk with no photography on my part, but at the last minute I attached my camera and a 300 mm lens to my Black Rapid R-Strap, an innova” | |

    • Thanks Kevin. I guess it is all about perspective when it comes to camera gear. Great to hear from you.

  2. Ah that’s a beauty.

  3. Hi Dan,
    Thanks for highlighting some of my low-lying friends. Great pics as always and also amazing finds, your wife found the big prize and county record for the “stinkpot” and your find of the common snapper updates the county record with last specimen recorded in 1906. You can find more information here
    and the steps to enter a county record are there as well. Hope to see more editions of the cold blooded variety along with all your other amazing posts.


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