We had a real treat this morning. Paul found this Spotted Turtle by the side of the road during his run, and he called me down to see it:
I'd never seen one of these creatures in the wild before, and more than that, they're a species in trouble. Spotted Turtles aren't officially listed as threatened or endangered in Connecticut, but according to the state DEEP, populations are steadily declining, and the IUCN Red List classifies this species as endangered worldwide. (That's not good. Not even the West Indian Manatee is classified as "endangered" by the IUCN, to put that label in perspective.) Things like habitat loss and human collection are making things awful hard for these creatures, so I was happy to see one out and about, just doing its thing.
After a minute or two of concentrated admiring, we put the turtle back where we found it, on the edge of someone's yard. Apparently part of the Spotted Turtle's normal yearly routine is that they travel over land from one wet area to another (and females walk into fields to lay eggs), so this mostly-aquatic turtle probably wasn't lost -- our neighborhood just happens to be in the path of its travels. I felt a little uneasy just plopping it back down in a suburban yard, but I think it was the best thing to do. We made sure it wasn't going to get hit by a car, and now we just have to trust that the turtle knows where it's going.
Off you go, little turtle, with your beautiful spangled shell:
Goodbye, and good luck!