Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nesting Wood Turtle

We were riding our bicycles on the Pine Creek rail-trail when we saw a nesting wood turtle. Each year we find many turtle nests in the limestone screenings that were used to make a rideable surface, but those nests have been plundered by the raccoons, skunks, opossums and foxes that patrol the trail in the night looking for a meal. 

But this was a female wood turtle in the process of backfilling her nest after deposing eggs.

The backfilling was done at turtle speed in turtle time. As can be seen, the turtle operated just as a conscientious person would do when placing fill – putting some backfill in the hole (we call that a “lift”) and compacting that before adding more fill –

Although the turtle had already partially filled the hole before we found her, we watched for 43 minutes before she finished and, apparently satisfied, slowly walked back toward the stream.

H. and I rode on and in less than a half mile found another female wood turtle excavating a hole in which to lay her eggs –

This lady turtle had apparently begun a number of nearby nest holes that had subsequently been abandoned when she got through a shallow layer of screenings and encountered the large ballast stones. Given how long it had taken to backfill the other nest, and lunch beckoned, we decided to ride on.

A bit over a week later we rode the trail again and saw that a predator had found the turtle's nest and enjoyed a meal. 

Hopefully other nests along the trail will escape the predators and produce a few hatchlings.


The Furry Gnome said...

Hope at least a few survive!

Breathtaking said...

Hello!:) Aw! What a shame, after all that preparation. Your images are great!:)

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I hope the turtle nest will survive the predators. It is a neat turtle.
Wonderful photos and video. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!