Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Spotted Turtle

Just as I started to water the garden late in the afternoon dark clouds moved in followed by a brief rainstorm. Enough rain for now that I put the hose away. Once it cleared we took Aria and Kodi up the road to a conservation area.

Late afternoons at this time of year, just after a rain, are lovely. A light breeze was enough to keep the mosquitoes quiet. The dogs sniffed deeply in the wet grass along the trail that winds through an old orchard and grassy field, to a wetland, and beyond. We stopped at the wetland for the dogs to wade in and retrieve a stick or two. An old stone dam provides a crossing and access to back land. A marsh was created when the stream was dammed. Sedges and cattails and alders rim the open water. A few logs in the water offer sunning spots for turtles.

While the dogs were focused on the water, I looked for snakes and turtles. Sure enough, there was a spotted turtle, in the middle of the trail as it crosses the old stone dam. This is a threatened species in New Hampshire. She (her underside or plastron was flat which is one key to sexing turtles: a male's plastron is concave) was 4 to 5 inches long -- spotted turtles are relatively small. The yellow spots that dot its smooth, black back (or carapace) give the turtle its name.

This spotted turtle may have just been wandering or maybe she was off to lay eggs. It is turtle nesting season; the time of year to be watchful on the road. Although some people probably hit turtles by accident, there are many heartless people who run over turtles and snakes on purpose. Road mortality and illegal collection are two main reasons for turtle declines. We were glad to find this turtle living in a wetland that is within a large area of conserved land.

I put her gently back down among the cattails. The dogs never noticed her, as they were busy elsewhere. We left her to her wanderings, and we hope a successful nesting season.


  1. Thanks for the post. I have seen some of your post and adding your blog to my RSS Feed reader.

  2. Lia and Rosie had a snapping turtle at their Waldorf school last week. The teachers roped off the area so as not to disturb the big turtle as it roamed around the play area and swing set. The children from all grades came by to watch it. The next day, a signed had sprouted on the driveway, Go Slow for Snapping Turtle. I love that school!