Friday, May 27, 2016

Turtles with Dirty Faces. 5-22-2016

We were up early on Sunday morning, out the door, checked out and eating an amazing breakfast buffet by 8 AM. After we were stuffed, we went straight to Box Turtle Field to see who was up. It was 55° and drizzling... that, my dear, is perfect Box Turtle weather and, indeed, it didn't take long.

We were looking around a pile of branches, peering through to the ground, hoping for a glimpse of shell. Suddenly, Andrea said "duh" and pointed at this Boxie, mid-munch, staring at us, right out in the open.
We photographed him for Tim's records.

We saw the larger of the two youngsters from the previous day in the same spot as before. We noticed that it had been notched. It is now an official Box Turtle.

Further up the path, we saw this hungry gal... also mid-munch.
Feeding time, for sure.

About 15 feet away, this shy one was in some brush.

This was almost too easy... this gal, who Tim has ID'd as #908, was also up looking for a snack.

We peeked in where we had seen the smallest turtle from the day before and were delighted to see it not only up and with its eyes open, but also eating!

We decided to walk the edge of the woods down to the pond. On the way, we saw Hook-Shell from the day before. She was truckin' along, probably also looking for succulent worms.

Right at the edge of the woods, abutting an open area, another shy turtle was hanging out.

I made my way back to the pond. Hey! That's not a Box Turtle!
One lone Painted Turtle was up testing the cool, rainy weather.

Back in the woods, Andrea found the most brilliantly colored Box of the weekend. I had walked right past him.
We later learned that he is #78.

I was still a bit under the weather so our plans of scouring the entire other field and campgrounds were shortened to, "let's just peek over there a bit." It actually turned into me resting at a picnic table, then dragging my carcass up to look around some fallen trees. Tim said this side is tough and after the ease with which we had seen 9 turtles, I wasn't really in the mood for working. But we took a peek anyway.

There are a lot of open spots on that side and I had just said something to the effect of "turtles know what they want, and they don't want this side" when I saw a turtle. With a dirty face.
I was wondering what the hell was wrong with its shell when we realized it was a transmittered specimen.
Obviously, we took pictures for Tim, thinking we had found something special. In fact, we had.

We went up to the offices and saw Bob, the head honcho, engaged in conversation. We politely waited. For a while. Finally, we cut in and told him of our find. He wanted it brought in. And all of the turtles we had seen. Oops. He kind of "deputized" us, saying that we could handle them. So we went out to try to find the turtles.

Saturday, it had been easy. All 5 turtles that we had seen were still more or less in the same spot when Tim got there. Not today. The sun had come out and the turtles seemed to take that as a cue to disperse and hide. The transmittered one, who they hadn't seen for some time, was nowhere to be found. Of course, we took forever to find the same area. Not as easy to navigate as Box Turtle field. We failed to find her.

While searching Box Turtle Field, we saw a speedy Ribbon Snake, the first snake we had ever seen there. It was warming up.
There was another snake about 10 feet away that we only saw a black tail streak into the leaves... small Racer? At any rate, it pulled an amazing disappearing act. Much like the Boxies had.

In fact, the only turtle that we were able to find was Andrea's neon orange stunner. We took him in for weight and measurements. This is #78. He was notched in the 80s.

We returned good ol' #78 to his spot after his check-up and stopping to show him to a few families and talking about him. While carrying him back, we noticed more Painters had emerged for a sun-worshipping session.

We had spent far longer than expected there. The fruitless search for Ol' Transmitter and the others had cut deep into the day, though we regret nothing. But we had planned to stop by a Plymouth County spot on the way home and we now had to decide what parts to see in the short time we had.

On the road into this State Forest, we saw a car full of young men hopping in and out, photographing the ground, picking something up, driving a few feet... releasing whatever it was... I pulled up next to them and they laughed and said it was a turtle. We pulled over as they drove off and saw a gorgeous male Painted Turtle trucking along.
Not sure what those guys were doing. We saw them later on, posing in front of a pond. I guess they were just having fun and goofing off. I'm glad they didn't steal or eat the turtle.

We got to our first spot and flipped a grumpy Fowler's Toad.
Now that we have broken the seal on Fowler's, we're seeing plenty of them.

We got to a small sheet of tin. There has been a shoestring Garter under it before. I got my camera ready and focused while Andrea flipped. There were two occupants and they were too speedy. One, a small Garter, dropped low, bookmarked and became ferocious.

The escapee was a little wisp of a Ringneck.
This 4 1/2 inches of terror crawled into the lining on the wrist of Andrea's raincoat.

It was getting late so we had to choose the next, and last, spot. We chose a bog. It was still plenty sunny there so we figured it might be more productive than a shady path through a wooded area. The bog had some Bullfrogs present.
(^ That guy fooled me for a bit... that looks like a Green's dorsolateral ridge but it isn't.)

I flipped a rock on a sandy mound and was surprised to see a decent sized Ringneck all coiled up. We'd never seen one at this particular spot before.

Andrea made a really pleasant find when she found what is (unbelievably) only our second Pickerel on the year. And our other one was an emaciated guy flipped in a stream in April, still very much in hibernation.
This one is pretty big and in good flesh.

We hit one last pond on the way out in hopes of seeing a sleeping Gray Tree Frog in the surrounding foliage. We saw none but we saw a few more Bullfrogs and plenty of tadpoles (Toads?).

We got home by 7 PM, another long weekend of herping in the books. More long herp weekends are in the plans over the next couple of weeks. I'd better get my sorry ass feeling better of I might not survive to see 55.

Thanks again to Andrea for planning this birthday weekend turtle retreat. 12 Box Turtles is an amazing weekend by anyone's standards.


  1. i have turtle envy and boy does andrea look cute with the turtles in her arms.....
    i'm sorry you're sick mr isn't from that wire scratch is it?

    1. No, no... it's just a Spring cold, methinks.

  2. Great post! You know what always strikes me as odd? The longer you look at turtles (or tortoises) the more intelligent and human they look. Maybe it's the way they have of seeking eye contact.