Monday: 9 July 2012
So far in July we’ve had 2 days of high temperatures in the 100s and the remaining 7 days in the 90s. So it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been turtle hunting, particularly since that hot weather actually began in the last week of June. There was no reason to think that turtles were doing anything other than lying under litter, dozing away the heat.
Still, in order to cross your i’s and dot your t’s you should compile negative evidence as well as positive. The insidious alternative is to begin to make assumptions and think them to be supported. So I ventured out late morning yesterday for several hours between 11am and 1pm. You see, I even waited until it was really getting hot.
And found four box turtles, at temperatures of 90-92 degF. So much for assumptions.
I’ve seen all these turtles before, which is something of a relief, after a long series of new discoveries. Above, left, is Reuben, who I saw this year for the first time. Reuben was enjoying a little swim in the creek. In fact, Reuben was dashing upstream trying to get out of my range of vision before I saw him.
Reuben was the first turtle I saw this year, in March. I’ve seen him four times since - this is the fifth time. He’s wandered around quite a bit. I used the photo of his plastron because it is very distinctive - the moment I see this pattern of very dark marginal splotches I know it’s Reuben. Again. The odd thing about Reuben is that I’ve seen him five times this year, but never before this year.
Above, right, is Katherine, who was a foot or so from SBS Creek. I found Katherine for the first time last October, and then have rediscovered her three times this year. Like Reuben, she gets around. She has terrible damage to the front part of her carapace, with apparent tooth marks, in one case puncturing the margin.
Leo, below, was originally discovered in May this year, and the is his first rediscovery. Can you see him in the photo? He was way across the creek, half buried, just a few feet upstream from Katherine. I was pleased to have spotted him, since I think he had already spotted me and was busy digging in. It’s encouraging to imagine that I spot most of the turtles who are within that 10-foot radius around me.
Pablo, below, was first discovered in May 2011. Yesterday was our first reunion, and he was wading contentedly in a deeper pool of SBS Creek. He’s a rather small turtle, and at first I thought it might be Ernest until I got a look at his plastron, which was mostly a featureless yellow.
The vast majority of my searches yesterday were conducted well away from the creek, and I didn’t find any turtles there. All the turtles yesterday were found either wading in the creek (two) or within a foot from the creek (two). I think that’s likely meaningful.
Ordinarily when I’d see four turtles randomly on my route I’d say that it was a good indication of a high turtle activity day. But in this case, the creek looks like it’s a turtle magnet, drawing in many, most, or even all of the active turtles. So perhaps only a few of the total number are actually active. My assumptions may not have been so wrong, after all, just in need of adjustment.