Wild Kingdom

This weekend was clean up the back yard day.  The yard is full of small trees and is mostly full shade.  With all of the shade there is very little grass and lots of leaves.  Lots and lots of leaves. John decided it was time to take to mower to the leaves and try to compost them a little better.  While he set to work on this project, Mark was given the task of collecting sticks, knocking down dead trees and branches and clearing some of the smaller brush piles.  
Ginger decided she would "help" Mark carry the sticks.  She always chose the biggest and longest she could find.  
Then she would try to get Mark to chase her with it.  The only problem being the sticks were so large she kept running into trees and having to drop the stick.  It was a hoot.  While out and about in the back yard they ran across several interesting creatures.  

This Green Tree Frog was found at the bottom of the white trash can Mark was using for the stick.  They are a very slender frog with amazing suction power on their toes.  The tree frogs here are louder than the crickets.  They make a wonderful evening song.  In combination with the crickets they are very loud.  Jack, however, does not appreciate their croaks because he says they keep him awake.  

The next animal they stumble upon was almost compost.  John had stopped the mower to check underneath and this creature took off out from under it.  It is amazing he wasn't harmed. Thankfully, I think the quantity of leaves in the backyard padded him from the mower blades.  He is a Broadhead skink and was almost 10 inches long.  A bit of a shock for John.  Ginger was thrilled.  She chased the little thing around the yard and then up under the siding of the house where she stood and barked at it.  I am not sure she understands that not everything wants to play with her. 

When we woke up Sunday morning we had this little guy clinging to our screen door.  He is a Green Anole.   They too are great climbers.  The kids were fasinated and of course wanted to keep it.

Monday after I returned from running errands I let Ginger out and she started barking like a mad woman.  Wondering what in the world she was barking at I went out and found the source of the commotion.  She had stumbled upon a Yellow Bellied Slider.  A turtle basically.   Ginger was batting the poor thing around like a tennis ball.  I think Ms. Turtle was trying to make a nest as I found her in a whole where she had been digging. I knew the kids would be super excited to see the turtle so I put her in a box with some apple slices and a stem of celery.  When the kids got home they were indeed excited.  We did some research on the turtle and decided we needed to let it go, something mom had been rallying for from the beginning.  We took her down to the creek and waited for her to come out and swim away.  She was super freaked out and it took her about 15 grueling minutes to come out and swim away.

Jack is trying to be patient while waiting for Ms. Turtle to come out of her shell.  It had been such an adventurous weekend filled with animals.  The first question I got after school Tuesday was, "Did you find any more animals today?"
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