Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

turtle day!

Today was definitely the day for painted turtles to be out basking. It's been two and a half weeks since we had a really, truly, lovely spring day, but today has been worth the wait. Wonderful warm sun, and no need for a jacket this afternoon! But back to the turtles; I saw three this morning with my class. That was pretty good, because it wasn't even super warm at that time - just before noon - but the turtles were out there, soaking up the rays; three of them all lined up on a log.
But I really hit the jackpot on my way home from work. I was driving by a wetland where there used to be a beaver lodge (I suppose the beavers moved out as more and more people moved in - it's an area of lots of office buildings and a power station and the DPW stump dump and compost facility), when I saw dozens of shiny dark bumps in the mud on the side of the stream that runs through the wetland (the water level must be controlled upstream, because the water level was lower than normal). I thought "Turtles!" and then I just had to stop and look to make sure. After I parked, I tromped through some muck and old brush and reeds, but I definitely found turtles. Dozens of them. As I approached, they scooted into the water, obviously disturbed by my presence. A few stayed on the bank, and I could see some floating in the water. The ones in the water would dive down under when they saw me move. Further upstream there was another batch of more painted turtles; some of them were quite large, meaning they are old - they keep growing their whole lives, although growth slows after they reach maturity.
Does anyone else get as excited about this stuff as I do?
A bit of trivia - Massachusetts has ten native turtle species. That's the same number as frog species, coincidentally.
Walking the dog a little later on, I got a great look at a beautiful red-tail hawk. It looked around from this tree, and then flew off to hunt from another perch. I guess they don't hunt red-wing blackbirds, because one was sitting in the same tree, calling, which was made me look up to that spot in the first place. This area is a cleared space where the high-tension power lines run through and it is cut every few years to allow access to the power company trucks. They make a big mess, but it gives the wildlife an open space to populate, which is great for me.

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