Thursday: 21 March 2013
On Tuesday I found the first box turtle of the year. He was a few feet from Goulding Creek enjoying what was then the warm sunshine.
March 19 is, by one day, the earliest I’ve found a box turtle. Last year, my first one was March 20, and in 2009, it was March 22. (Other years I wasn’t paying close enough attention.)
Yes, it’s true that last year was the warmest March on record, 20-30 degF higher most days, and that this last six weeks this year have actually been a bit cooler than normal. Nonetheless, that seems to have had no effect on the date of first appearance. I’m beginning to think that estivating/brumating box turtles count the days until spring, at least here, and pay relatively less attention to thermal pulses from the upper world.
Lest you think I’ve been unobservant and am drawing unwarranted conclusions, I’ve made 46 two to three-mile trips since Jan 2, with a total of 104 miles, and it was only on Tuesday that I saw the first box turtle.
I went through the photo album and recognized this turtle from last May 19. At that time he had the lack of shell clarity that I’ve been told has to do with a relatively benign but somewhat disfiguring fungal infection. A kind of athlete’s foot for the turtle.
Interestingly, he’s still got it.
On that day, last May, I found him a few feet from Reuben, who happened to be the first turtle I found last year on March 20. Wild coincidence, or what?
This turtle also holds the record for greatest distance traveled since the previous sighting. Last year I found him just up the hill from the large rock in the middle of SBS Creek.
On Tuesday I found him about 1/3 mile away, and he must have gone up and down two significant hills to get there. (The thick blue lines are from a previous walk I made, recorded by the tracking app. Pay no attention.)
As you know, upon the second sighting I name the turtle. This one is going to be Magellan.