This is the time of year to be aware of these fantastic creatures crossing roads, to drive slowly, and to help them across when you can. Female turtles are on the move in late May and June and sometimes into July. They leave wetlands and ponds and wander into the surrounding uplands in search of a good nest site -- gravel roadside, compost or sawdust pile, garden, field or pasture, or other site with loose soil. Once she finds a suitable site, she digs a hole with her hind feet, lays the eggs, covers the nest, then heads back to the wetland from which she came.
A painted turtle returns to a wetland after laying eggs
A Blanding's turtle with its yellow chin and throat eyes me through the cattails
A spotted turtle glistens after crawling out of a wetland
A wood turtle showcasing its beautifully sculpted shell
A painted turtle lays her eggs in our vegetable garden;
a quarter-sized painted turtle hatchling crawls across our driveway in spring
A snapper lays her eggs in gravelly soil
To further aid in conserving our native turtles you can report sightings to the Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program at RAARP@wildlife.nh.gov (other states likely have similar programs) and support the permanent conservation of large landscapes with a mix of wetlands and uplands – places without roads so that turtles can safely travel from pond to nest or foraging sites and back again.