Painted Turtles & Wood Frogs in Canada

From www.ironammonite.com

I spent two weeks in Canada with Michael Male, a camerman based in Virginia. Most of time was spent at Carleton University working with Jan Storey, but we also made a couple of trips further up-country into some remote wild locations, where we pitched ourselves for many hours along the sunny bank of a defrosting lake waiting for baby hatchling turtles to emerge from their winter freeze.

Michael Male and I waiting for Painted Turtle hatchlings to emerge

Baby Painted Turtles hatchlings defrosting from the winter freeze in their nest

Wood Frogs Would Spawn
Another sequence that we had been wanting to film was Wood Frog breeding, something that is more difficult that you might first imagine. Frogs are very picky about where they gather and spawn, and Michael and I had been working on finding a suitable location for more than a month before we arrived in Canada. Keeping in touch with an army of herpetologists all along the eastern seaboard we had followed the changing of the seasons north from Virginia to Maine in the vain hope of catching up with a population that was breeding somewhere along the line. Most of the time we had either missed the breeding, or there were no frogs to be seen.

While we were in Canada we met Fred Scheuler, a lovely and really charismatic naturalist. Fred was certain the frogs in his area were ready to do their stuff. He took us out to see his pools, and sure enough they were gathering - we made a plan and went to our battle stations. Michael would stay behind after I had returned to the UK and he would get the shots we needed - a week later and he sent me the rushes, and they are fantastic!

Holding Painted Turtle Hatchlings - soo cute!

Old Country Living
Fred Scheuler and his family were lovely folks who live a very rustic lifestyle a few hours north of Ottowa, Fred has dedicated his life to the natural history of his part of the world, and he and his wife have this quaint, victorian-esque museum nestled in the corner of their tiny village. It is the type that takes me back to my time doing taxidermy in new york; a stuffed snowy owl is a highlight, while the hundreds of different species of mussels spread about the place add to the feeling of organised chaos. Above all it is always the smell of these places that I love, as much as I love technology I do sometimes pine for the days before museums became all animatronics and flashing lights.

Fred invited us back to his place for Dinner, they live in an incredible house reminescent of the colonial homes seen in Western Movies. And the focal point is a huge original iron-cast stove. The smell of freshly made Maple Syrup filled the air...