Desert Tortoise (12 pix)

Discussion in 'Landscape & Cityscape' started by woodsac, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. woodsac

    woodsac TPF Noob!

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    Please bare with the long explanation :mrgreen:

    Last Friday, I headed out to a place about 45 minutes from my house. It's called the DTNA (desert tortoise natural area). It's about 35 square miles of protected desert used to help preserve the desert tortoise.

    As a kid, the desert tortoise used to roam freely. I remember seeing them cross the streets, on the ball fields and coming across them in the desert. That's no longer the case. The tortoise population has declined an estimated 90% in the last 10 years! So I wasn't sure what my odds of actually getting to 'see' a tortoise were?

    Well, not only did I see one, I saw five different tortoises :heart: But what's even better than that? I found two tortoises very close together. So I grabbed a spot in the dirt to see how they would interact with one another because one was headed right for the other one. Well guess what? One was male and one was female. They mated no more than 6 or 7 feet away from me and I got to watch and photograph the entire 45-50 minute process!

    It was unbelievable!! The male instantley rushed the female upon spotting her. He then spent the next 15-20 minutes trying to force her into submission. He would ram her with his gular horn and attempt to bite her. Once she submitted, he mounted her. The actual mating lasted another 20 minutes or so. The male made grunting and hissing noises and would claw at her shell.

    When it was all done, they each just mosied a few feet away and went about their business :) This was something that I feel honored to have witnessed in nature! Also something I'll never forget :wink:

    The focus is a little off on some of these. Maybe on all of them? I was using my 28-135mm with a cheapo 2X convertor, so I was manually focusing. It was hard to zoom and focus when they were moving. I have several other shots, some probably technically better, but these just stood out. So now that you've read for 10 minutes, hope you enjoy the shots :mrgreen:

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  2. Antarctican

    Antarctican TPF Noob!

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    Woodsac, you voyeur you!

    Seriously, though, it musta been fascinating to see the tortoises mating in the wild, and from such a close vantage point. With their numbers dwindling so badly, here's hoping the male continues to sow his DNA in DTNA. Thanks for posting this interesting series.
     
  3. Randog

    Randog TPF Noob!

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    Wow! Woodsac this just must have been a fascinating experience for you. With your early childhood experiences of seeing these tortoises to witnessing and capturing this, must be wonderful for you. I can tell you that the shots are wonderful and thank you very much for sharing with us. It also nice to know that the government has a least set aside some land to preserve their legacy. ItÂ’s still very sad though that only 10% remain. Nice work woody!
     
  4. Raymond J Barlow

    Raymond J Barlow TPF Noob!

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    Cool deal Woodsac, I sure hope they survive all this., why are their numbers declining?

    awesome shots, great story too.
     
  5. Fate

    Fate TPF Noob!

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    Great shots!
     
  6. Arch

    Arch Damn You! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    what a cool thing to witness, nicely done woody, he's got a great expression in 10 haha! :thumbup:
     
  7. Mohain

    Mohain TPF Noob!

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    Hey! He stole my technique! :lol:

    Great series of shots Woody. Must have been great to witness it. cool :) :thumbup:
     
  8. anicole

    anicole TPF Noob!

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    Rituals are so interesting ... and the animal kingdom is fascinating!

    I once saw the giant turtles at the zoo go through this process ... it's certainly a sight to behold.

    Wonderful shots, dude ... #4 looks like my dad in the morning! :lol:
     
  9. n2photos

    n2photos TPF Noob!

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    Great series Woodsac.

    Didn't mind the read at all. Glad you put all that info on there, other wise we would think we were just looking at tortoise and some of US would not know how endangered they were.

    Kinda cool how you told us that and then you were there to witness the mating and the fact the population of them will be one more (or however many they have at a time.)

    That was just cool as heck. Glad you were there! GOOD TIMING DUDE!!!

    You should start a caption contest with #10.
    I could really imagine all the cheesy pickup lines you could throw out there for that one....lol.
    "Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?" lmao

    Thanks for the awesome post!
     
  10. woodsac

    woodsac TPF Noob!

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    Thanks a ton :D

    I'm not some huge tortoise conservation nut. I didn't even know a whole lot about them until I started planning this trip about a month ago. I've always know bits and pieces because they are in my area. It was just so cool to get to see something like this in the wild. I had actually photographed the male about 2 hours before this, over 200 yards away. Some of them have identification tags on their shell. I have pics of the male and females numbers. I shot the males number both times, that's how I know it's the same one.

    Lots of reasons for decline in numbers Ray. Main reasons are development, dirt bikes and ravens. We have a massive over population of ravens in the Mojave Desert. They are the baby and juvenile tortoises main predator.

    The female can lay from 4-10 eggs, depending on her size. What's super cool. Is that she can store the male sperm for up to 8 years and use it to reproduce at any time :D
     
  11. macawlvr

    macawlvr TPF Noob!

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    WOW these are fantastic, even if a few are a little blurred.
    To catch a tortoise in the throws of passion and the expression on the faces are priceless. Last time I seen this was at a zoo...
    VERY nice job!
     
  12. JTHphoto

    JTHphoto TPF Noob!

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    :lol: great series woods, it is tough to refrain from laughing here at work... i had a desert tortoise just like these growing up as a kid... we had him for about 15 years before some idiot contruction workers "accidentally" killed him while working in our back yard... :grumpy: i have always wanted to find one in the wild, but as you said they are few and far between... glad to hear you had some success on the preserve. I think they are really interesting critters and enjoyed some of your stats... :thumbup:

    #10 i was thinking he needed a cigarette in his mouth about that time... he looks... satisfied.

    mohain - :lmao:
     

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