Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Here are the Turtles

Up until this past Saturday, it had been probably over a year since I last saw wild turtles. We never saw the one species of turtle in northwestern California while we were living there, and despite many walks around ponds, wetlands, and streams since moving to New York in July, there's still been a surprising lack of turtle sightings. But on Saturday morning, I visited the Cornell Plantations Arboretum, and apparently the ponds here are where all the turtles live.

Some children and their families were there tossing what looked like cereal into the water, and dozens of turtles were eagerly snatching up the food right along with the fish. There were lots of Painted Turtles, and, crazily enough, two huge Common Snapping Turtles right in the middle of it all:

I've never seen snapping turtles acting so much like fish, or like other turtles for that matter. What are these monsters doing casually swimming around in the light instead of lurking in some corner?

Easy food is a powerful motivator I guess. In any case, I loved getting to see these creatures' algae-covered faces:

Yikes, what a wonderful monster:

The Painted Turtles were also lovely, of course, with their beautifully patterned shells:

While the turtles fed in one area of the pond, big tadpoles in another part of the pond kept swimming up to the surface (to grab a morsel of something while the pond's predators were otherwise engaged?) then diving immediately back down into murky water. Those tadpoles were too quick for my camera, but some young Bullfrogs perched on waterlily pads were easier (and very handsome) subjects:

I was sure I'd find turtles sooner or later, but I'm glad I got to see such an impressive group before summer starts to wind down!

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