Getting ready to leave at 3:15 in the afternoon, I happen to look over the boardwalk railing and noticed a soft-shelled turtle below in the sand.
Quite large at around 15 inches across its shell, it was either digging or trying to cover over something.
(Coincidentally I remembered a very large soft-shelled turtle in the same exact spot during last years vacation.)
I stopped to watch for a few minutes and soon noticed, heard actually, a crow above in the bushes sounding very cantankerous.
It too had been watching, and gave me the distinct impression it wanted me to leave. It even made a bold move pretty close to me on the railing for a better view of the turtle’s actions and maybe even to throw a little intimidation my way.
My attention was drawn back to the turtle below that was beginning a short journey back to Gator Lake about 50 feet away.
The route was direct but out of view, as it used the sparse ground directly under the boardwalk that runs right to the water as the easiest access. The crow had noticed also.
The crow eyed me wondering what my next move might be.
I walked the boardwalk to follow the progress of the turtle and in a few minutes spotted it in the water heading for the deeper depths.
Turning back I got a glimpse of a crow flying up from the area the turtle had just vacated.
Upon closer examination it was apparent that I had frightened off the crow in the middle of a robbery. There was a turtle egg, lying on the sand in plain sight where it had been meticulously buried by the turtle a few minutes ago.
Instead of flying off, the crow circled the area then perched on a high branch, just watching. Only once in a while giving a single “caw”.
It was trying to muster enough courage to return for the egg and there was no available cover for me, no place to hide from a crow’s keen eyes.
All I could do was keep off to one side putting some foliage between myself and the egg, hope to have a possible shooting angle through the branches, and wait.
The wait lasted a long 20 minutes before the crow made its move; and with a beak full of a ping-pong ball sized turtle egg it flew off yelling “caw-caw-caw”.
Although to my ears it sounded more like a condescending “haw-haw-haw”.
No sooner was it out of sight when things began to happen rather fast.
A second crow I had not noticed quickly appeared. It had probably been watching and waiting in the foliage. This crow seemed far less intimidated by my presence than crow #1, as it wasted no time swooping down and digging out an egg for itself.
It seemed perhaps a bit smarter also, by making a decision to take advantage while the first crow was not around.
It cautiously looked around and proceeded to hide the egg just 30 feet from the turtle nest site on the other side of the boardwalk; tucking it out of sight under some leaf litter and placing a twig on top.
It came back for its second egg, hiding that in the same manner and same general location and quickly grabbed its third egg, hiding that in the vicinity beneath some low bushes.
Three eggs stolen in two minutes.
Just as it was about to reach for its fourth egg, crow #1 returned and there was a brief conflict, with crow #2 being chased off.
There was no time wasted by crow #1 as it snatched its second egg and flew off again.
Fifteen minutes passed and it was apparent I might have another vigil, so to escape from the sun I took about 20 steps to a shaded area on the boardwalk. Looking back I saw a crow fly up and away from the turtle nest site with an egg. So it was back into the sun to patiently wait.
It took another fifteen or twenty minutes before a crow reappeared. It had to be crow #2 because it immediately continued its earlier mission before it had been chased off.