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Posts Tagged ‘Spotted Turtle’

As our weather continues to warm up, more and more creatures are reappearing, like this Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) that I spotted yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. As you can see from the photo, the turtle was on dry land, in a wooded area with pine trees, rather than in the water like most of the other turtles that I saw yesterday.

Spotted Turtles are relatively small, about 3.5 – 4.5 inches in length (9 – 11.5 cm), according to the Virginia Herpetological Society website. The website also notes that this species is seen primarily in the early spring, but seldom beyond the month of June. Spotted Turtles enter into a state of dormancy (technically it is “aestivation”) during the warmest months under vegetation and during the coldest months under mud. During those periods they are inactive and their metabolism rate is lower, but their physiological state can be rapidly reversed, and they can quickly return to a normal state.

Spotted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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With our recent warm weather, turtles have risen from the mud at Huntley Meadows Park.  Sunning turtles are now vying for space on logs that are more crowded than a mall parking lot on Black Friday.

On Monday, a Spotted Turtle (Clemys guttata) tried a different approach. He slowly clawed his way up out of the water onto some vegetation amid the cattails and assumed an almost vertical perch.

Who needs a log?

Spotted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At the edge of a steep-banked little creek, this Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) lifted its head above the surface of the water. I must have spooked it a little with the sound of the camera’s shutter for it moved to a more concealed position underneath the vegetation, but continued to keep an eye on me.

Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Now that the ice on the ponds has melted, the turtles have resurfaced, including this relatively uncommon Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) that I photographed yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park.

According to the Virginia Herpetological Society, “Extinction or extirpation is possible. Populations of these species are in decline or have declined to low levels or are in a restricted range. Management action is needed to stabilize or increase populations.”

I was very happy to spot this turtle and tried hard not to disturb it too much in getting a few shots.

Spotted Turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved..

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As I was tiptoeing my way along a tree that had fallen across a flooded area of my local marsh, I glanced down and caught sight of this turtle, submerged in the shallow water. I am no expert in identifying turtles, but it was pretty easy to identify this as a Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata), a species that I don’t see very often.

According to Wikipedia, the spotted turtle is federally endangered in Canada and in the United States it is considered to be vulnerable to extinction in the wild in the medium-term future, or threatened in most of its habituating states. Within Virginia, the state in which I live, the Herpetological Society is pretty grim in its prognosis, “Extinction or extirpation is possible. Populations of these species are in decline or have declined to low levels or are in a restricted range. Management action is needed to stabilize or increase populations.”

It was a bit of a challenge getting a shot of this turtle. I was standing on the trunk of a tree, so my footing was a bit precarious. The water was probably only a few inches deep, but it seemed to defeat my auto-focusing system, so I ended up focusing manually. Finally, there was a bit of glare coming off of the surface of the water, so I had to bend down to search for an angle that allowed me to minimize the glare.

I am hoping that I will see these turtles often and that Huntley Meadows Park, the place where I take a lot of my wildlife photographs, will continue to be a refuge for this species and for many other ones.

 

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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