Let me start with a painted turtle. I found this one on the playing field at Wye Marsh Conservation Area and moved it so the school students playing a game modelling relations between historic trading blocs wouldn’t step on it. Those claws are pretty sharp!
On June second, I found a snapper laying eggs and also saw holes dug by others. It seemed like a lot of activity but the numbers kept picking up until yesterday, June 13, when I saw five turtles laying, including this location where three were laying at once. Should anyone care, this photo was taken on the berm at the far end of the big boardwalk.
It is tough to explain to the visiting students that the turtles lay so many eggs but raccoons eat most of them. (The ROM tells me that skunks also prey on turtle eggs although I have not yet seen any at the Marsh. I have seen an otter and wonder if they could dig up the eggs.) I have resorted to acting the part of a hungry baby raccoon (“Chirrrrrrrp. Feed me, mommy.”) to emphasize that the raccoons are not actually bad guys. Sometimes I believe it myself.
Both snapping turtles and Midland painted turtles are abundant at the Wye Marsh so I guess enough are getting through the gauntlet, even though snappers are rated as under ‘special concern’. Painted turtles have no threat categorization at this time.