TURTLES AND CLAMS..ANYONE?
You never know what may happen out in the world of nature, but today was a highlight. I had a call from our local school that Snapping Turtles had climbed into the play area at the school and were trying to find a spot to lay eggs. Apparently, there were enough large turtles emerging at the same time that it was a concern for the safety of both the turtles and the kids. One employee kept using a shovel to put them back over the fence bordering the playground that is covered with wood chips. One turtle was caught in the act of laying eggs up very near the parking area that edges the playground. Another turtle got tired or overheated and just dug a hole and tried to hide. I grabbed my camera and went over to the school since they felt the eggs that had been laid should be moved to a safer place. I was able to dig out (carefully) 29 eggs, about an inch in circumference and white in color. I have since planted those eggs in my vegetable garden where I can keep an eye on their development which may take several months. I also placed, and weighted down, a wire mesh that hopefully will keep them protected from predators......such as fox, raccoons, and blackbirds. I was told that when the eggs were laid, the female would push them back, deeper into the hole, while continuing to lay more eggs. Apparently, this was the first time Snapping Turtles have chosen this place to lay their eggs. There is a large wetland behind the school, made larger by the activity of beavers damming the water flowing into Center Pond.

My other interesting outing involved digging clams (not turtle eggs!) in the clamflats near the Kelp Shed. It is wonderful news that that area is now open for digging, and campers will be able to dig their dinner! The outing was planned by the local Land Trust, and was led by an experienced clammer, Dean Doyle. He brought all of his equipment so each could try his methods of extraction the clams. Clam rakes are short handled and require bending over, and trying to get a footing in the mud. We dug a few year old clams that were no more than a half inch in length, but watched them dig back into the mud using their small foot. It takes about 3 years for the clams to be of legal taking size, Dean had a ring to use for checking to make sure the clams were "take-able". If you are 10 years old, or 65+, you can dig for free or get a recreational clam license with a limit of one peck per outing. If you are between those ages, you can get a license at a minimal fee while camping, even though you don't live in Phippsburg year around. I can't wait to take you clamming, and Dean said he would be willing to come back and share his knowledge. He makes a living digging clams year around!

The latest word on the Cecropia Moth is that my females finally have a mate, brought to me by a friend who raises these insects. I'll try to bring you up to date on that activity, but I can assure you, their eggs are no where as big as those of the turtles!
6/11/11 Ronnie, digging, not scrambling eggs!