Is That A . . . Snapping Turtle? by Jay Ryser

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Is That A . . . Snapping Turtle? by 

There’s kind of a long story behind this one . . .

I was out at Crown Hill park again, looking for coyotes (and saw not a single one, by the way), but that doesn’t mean it was an unproductive day. The main things that caught my eye were a new gaggle of goslings (baby geese) that were with their parents by the shore of the lake. The parents seemed nervous and were trying to keep the babies out of the water. And I soon discovered why.

A few feet was what I initially thought was a rock or a stump, but it’s shape seemed a little too symmetrical. My next thought was “Holy @&#$, that’s a snapping turtle!” Bit it couldn’t be – the temps were in the low 40s, the water had to be even colder than that. How could this big guy be moving around in conditions that cold? But sure enough, it’s a snapping turtle.

I was hoping to get a shot of the turtle, the goslings, and the parents all in the same frame, but the parents kept themselves between the turtle and the babies, so I could never get a clean shot. I wanted a cleaner, closer shot of the turtle, but I was afraid if I moved too close, it would force the goslings into the water, and I suspect the turtle was eying the babies for breakfast.

The snapping turtle finally decided to move on (and much faster than I would have guessed, given the cold temps).

I think the duck swimming by had the same reaction that I did.

Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Crown Hill Park, lakewood, CO
Sony a700
Sigma 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4TC
Giottos tripod, Acratech ballhead, Wimberley Sidekick

ISO640, f/2.8, 1/640sec

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turtle, amphibian, predator, snapping

I’m primarily a nature photographer, usually wildlife, and I have lots of access to wildlife in Colorado. My main goal is to capture some of the individual personality of each of the animals I photograph – to document not just a fox, for instance, but to show something of that specific fox, something unique about that individual animal.

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  • Kasey Cline
    Kasey Clinealmost 6 years ago

    WOW too cool my friend!
    It seems that nature is reallys starting to blossom out there!! Love the way the duck is looking at the turtle, speaks alot!!!

  • I had no idea there were snapping turtles there

    – Jay Ryser

  • In the series of photos, the duck is swimming by, stops with this look, then swims in for a closer look, then quickly swims away

    – Jay Ryser

  • Finbarr Reilly
    Finbarr Reillyalmost 6 years ago


  • Thanks

    – Jay Ryser

  • Kasey Cline
    Kasey Clinealmost 6 years ago

    LMAO! Thats funny.
    Ya I have seen them there before…Never when its this chilly out but there they. They like the reed part of the water down by the shore…There is that run off spot on the east side of the lake. Thats where I have seen a ton of them!

  • This is on the north shore, close to the wildlife sanctuary

    – Jay Ryser

  • Kasey Cline
    Kasey Clinealmost 6 years ago

    Ahhh hey when does that open back up anyways???

  • July 1

    – Jay Ryser

  • JanT
    JanTalmost 6 years ago

    Great angle of the duck’s head; draws my attention back to the turtle. Cool shot and story, Jay!

  • Thanks Jan

    – Jay Ryser

  • Krys Bailey
    Krys Baileyalmost 6 years ago

    Snapping Turtles sure live up to their name Jay!!! Wish I had one as a pet though…..;o)

  • When I Googled it to confirm the ID, there was an ad for a place selling snapping turtles! There ya go

    – Jay Ryser

  • Steve  Taylor
    Steve Tayloralmost 6 years ago

    Great shot. I like the way the duck has its head.

  • The duck makes the photo

    – Jay Ryser

  • Marvin Collins
    Marvin Collinsalmost 6 years ago

    Nice shot Jay!!

  • Ryan  Fisher
    Ryan Fisherabout 5 years ago

    great photo.
    the title is perfect for the photo

  • I wish the duck had been in the DOF, but I do like his look

    – Jay Ryser

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