On Monday, we had an exploration at the Lily Pond to check on the status of the creatures that make that habitat home. We didn't capture one of the croaking frogs, but were able to net tiny animals that I believe were toads ready to set out into a dry, air breathing, world. While using our nets, we noticed a turtle basking in the sun on a floating plank of wood. As we watched, a big gull landed on the same plank. Both remained undaunted by the other's presence until the bird took off with a flurry of wing beats. That was enough to set the turtle plopping into the water. At least we learned that a gull wouldn't peck at a turtle for food!

This first encounter with a turtle started a turtle story that unfolded in days to come. We found another turtle while at the pond, close enough to capture with a net. It gave us a chance to see a Painted Turtle up close and personal before setting it free. We thought that was the end of turtle talk, but the next day these animals became the topic of conversation again. A family camping near the Cattail Marsh reported witnessing a turtle lay eggs right in their site! They even have pictures to prove the fact! Unfortunately, the eggs were laid in the entrance to their campsite and we decide it was in the best interest of the egg development to move them away from traffic.

We carefully dug them up and moved them over to a site near the Lily Pond. The site is marked by a sign and has a wire cover to keep other animals from digging and eating the eggs. According to my information, these eggs may hatch in 65 days, but the nickel sized turtles may remain in the nest until the following spring! Hard to believe - and other turtles may not behave in a similar fashion. Maybe time will tell if we are lucky. Again, these are Painted Turtles, a common reptile living in our midst. It is not the first time a camper has reported seeing eggs being laid. In the past, they have been dug by predators (probably a raccoon or fox) leaving empty shells as witness.

I saved out one egg to watch more carefully. It is sitting in a perforated bucket covered with sand. Hopefully, the sun will warm and hatch the eggs. 65 days seems a long time to wait, but I'll try to be patient. Stay tuned for this unfolding turtle story. 7/14/06 Egg-cited Ronnie