What You Can See on May 16
Submitted by Ted Williams on Tue, 05/16/2006 - 06:57.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. The Turtle Stomp If you are abroad in the spring woods anywhere from the Lake States to the Maritimes and south to Iowa and Virginia, you may encounter the wood turtle, named less for its habitat than its spectacular carapace which looks as if it had been carved from black walnut. Depending on date and latitude, your wood turtle may be newly emerged from hibernation and easing over the bed of an ice-girded stream or high and dry -- positioned under an evergreen canopy to catch a shaft of sunlight no wider than itself. You may even find a courting couple facing each other and swinging their heads back and forth. If a turtle is walking on land, follow. Unlike other pond turtles, this species spends much of its life foraging in uplands. It will pause, stretch its orange neck, then daintily pluck a mushroom, berry or dandelion. Occasionally it will stop, stomp its feet, bang its yellow plastron on the wet earth, then snatch the earth worms brought to the surface by the vibrations. If it’s a female, it may be en route to an open, sunny spot to lay eggs. Illegal collecting threatens the species’ existence. In one study marked specimens began disappearing immediately after the public was invited into a 2,471-acre reservoir watershed. Eight years later only 14 remained. Nine years later they were gone.