Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Travels II

The next day I made a trip a little farther away to try and locate a species that had thus far eluded me in Michigan - the spotted turtle. Cid and I headed out bright and early, picked up another companion, David, on the way and we pulled up to the spot midmorning. The fen was already alive with frog calls and it only took 5 minutes before I heard David call out that he had the first spotted turtle of the day. All of the pictures will show the animals in situ in an attempt to showcase this colorful turtles remarkable camouflage ability.

Spotted Turtle Clemmys guttata

David quickly mentioned he had another one as well, and this had a neighboring ribbon snake. Both are photographed as found.

I found the next two, including this juvenile from last year.

Another couple turtle lovers joined us and we found a few more before calling it a day, with a total of 8 turtles.

Some habitat of the fen.

We chatted for a while before moving to the next spot. David and I moved farther away to another fen, but our partners stayed local. Both groups ended up finding a bunch more turtles.

The new fen

It took about 15 minutes this time but I managed to come up on a pair of spotteds mating. The broke apart quickly and dug into the sand.

There were tracks in the marl sand.

A third turtle, not shown here, was later spotted checking us out nearby. We started to move on again. I was hiking a small run with Cid following commands well and staying at my close rear. Like many times before I heard a faint buzzing a little behind me. Unlike all those other times before, this actually was a rattlesnake. The first Massasauga that gave up cover by rattling.

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus as found

Straight out of the burrow likely

Cid as always was an angel, and laid down for a nap during the photo shoot. It's hard work being a good field dog.

We split up again and found another small spotted a little bit away.

As found in the run.

I had kept my eyes out for carniverous plants all day, and I finally found a few pitcher plants.

Sarracenia purpurea

I noticed David was photographing something down low in the brush. It took me a while to get over there, and evidently I missed a prolonged courting show. I managed to snag a shot of the two lovebirds before they finally disappeared in the grass.

It was a fitting end to a great day. We also spent some time poking around an ephemeral pond on the hike out, but weren't able to turn up evidence of salamanders.


  1. Those are some really pretty spotted turtles - for whatever reason, the ones that we tend to find at our spots in NJ and PA end up stained a bit, something I forget until I see shots of your fen spotties.

  2. Hi there - this is my first time to visit. I love this post - makes me feel like I was out in the field too. Those turtles are so little!

  3. For a species you've never found before, you sure hit the jackpot on this trip! They're really lovely turtles!

  4. Thanks for visiting everyone.

    @falltoclimb - I have seen them before in Ohio, just never in Michigan. I had a good idea of habitat preferences and a search image, it was just a matter of visiting some of the better places.