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Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Painted Turtle’

The warm weather on Friday brought out a lot of turtles at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, including this group of Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta). I too enjoyed soaking up the sun, but felt more of a need to distance myself from other members of my species than these turtles did.

In terms of photography, I love the way that the red stripes on the turtles’ neck really stand out in an image made up of mainly muted colors. I thought of removing the leaf in the background, but decided that I liked the touch of whimsy that it added to the image.

Painted Turtles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I spotted this Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I immediately thought how apt a visual metaphor it was for our lives this past year. Surrounded by its protective shell, the turtle tentatively looked out at a hostile world, wondering if it was safe to stick out its neck and move forward.

It is still not completely safe, but conditions appear to be improving somewhat in many parts of the world. Yesterday I had my second Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination shot and I hope that as many people as possible will choose to get vaccinated when they have the chance.

In the meantime, we owe it to each other to continue to wear our masks, to wash our hands, and to practice social distancing. None of us really like these restrictions, but they will protect us as we await the day when we can all come out of our shells.

Painted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last week I featured an actual mud turtle, but today’s muddy turtles  are actually Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) that appear to have been painted with a coating of mud. The last few months we have had a lot of unusually cool weather, and I think the turtles have been spending a lot of time in the mud at the bottom of the ponds. Last week the weather improve  and there were turtles in all kinds of places at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge trying to absorb the warmth of the sun.

The pose of the first two turtles brings to mind a well-known scene from the movie Titanic in which Jack and Rose (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) were standing at the railing at the prow of the ship. I must confess that I spent 4+ hours watching the movie on television last Sunday night, which may be why the scene is so fresh in my mind. Yeah, I’m a bit of a romantic.

I encountered the second Painted Turtle as it was slowly making its way across a trail at the wildlife refuge. In addition to noting the large amount of fresh mud still on its shell, I was delighted by the way the two little leaf fragments on its shell matched the yellow markings on its neck.
Painted Turtle

Painted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Friday I encountered this basking Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) at the appropriately named Painted Turtle Pond at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Although painted turtles are common in the area in which I live, I am always happy to see their bright colors. In this case, the fallen flowers from a nearby tree added a nice accent to my little portrait of this colorful turtle.

Painted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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What is your first thought when you see these three turtles together? Are they just friends or more than friends? The turtles seem to be pretty comfortable sharing a confined space and there is plenty of space in our minds for varied interpretations on the nature of their relationship. According to the old saying, “two’s a couple and three’s a crowd”—is that always true?

Whatever the case, the turtles at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge have been definitely been enjoying our recent sunny days. My turtle identification skills are not very good, but I think these all may be Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta), though there is a chance that they might be Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans).

I love images like this one that allow viewers to use their creativity to interpret what they see and to generate in their minds their own mini-narrative of what is going on. Ménage à trois or just friends—you make the call.

red-eared sliders

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The temperature today feels so frigid—right about the freezing level—that it is hard to remember that only this past Monday it was sunny and 60 degrees (16 degrees C). While I was enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I photographed these sunning turtles, a relatively rare sight in December.

I did not get a good enough view of the turtles to be able to identify them with any confidence, but I think they may be Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta) or possibly Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans).

Turtles in December

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When I spotted this turtle from a distance earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it was so elevated that I thought it was standing on a log or a rock. It was only when I zoomed in on this Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) that I realized that it was standing on the back of another turtle. Yikes!

You have to be pretty old—probably about my age—if you remember the song whose name I used as the title for this blog posting. No, it was not sung by The Turtles.

Eastern Painted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The temperatures this past weekend soared past 60 degrees (16 degrees C), bringing the turtles up from the mud on the bottom of the ponds at my local marsh. Most of the turtles crowded together on the log in the first shot appear to be Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta), but I think I detect at least one Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).

Not all of turtles, however, wanted to bask in the sun in a communal environment. The second image shows a turtle that managed to find its own log and was enjoying a few moments of contemplative solitude.

turtles_sunning_blogturtle_sunning_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday when the sun was shining and the temperature soared to the high 50’s (15 degrees C), I was blissfully ignorant that snow was headed our way. Like this Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) that I observed at my local marsh, I wanted only to bask in the warmth of the sun.

Today in the Washington D.C. area, the federal government and most of the schools are closed and we are all hunkered down as we await the arrival of what is forecast to be the biggest snowstorm we’ve had in a few years, as much as eight inches (20cm).

During the summer, I often see a whole row of turtles on this particular log, but yesterday this was the only turtle that had bee roused from its slumbering state by the surprisingly warm, sunny weather. The mud on its shell suggests that this turtle did not swim around a lot, but made a beeline for this log after rose to the surface.

I suspect that this turtle is already back in the mud at the bottom of the pond today, comfortably dreaming of spring, when it will reemerge into the sun.

turtle_jan_blog

Click on the photo to see a higher resolution view of the turtle.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Most of the turtles that I have seen on recent sunny days have climbed out of the water entirely to bask in the sun, but this Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) seems to have taken a more tentative approach.

Although he seems poised for a quick reentry into the water, he seemed undisturbed when I approached him to take this photo. The angle of the photo provides a view of the turtle’s torso that I rarely see, and as you can probably tell, I got down pretty low to get the shot.

 I was surprised by the amount of red on his body and the length of his claws. When I saw the claws, I decided not to go for an extreme close-up shot. I can only imagine the newspaper headline, “Wildlife photographer mauled by killer turtle.”

turtle1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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