Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spring Spotteds!

I mentioned in an earlier post how I have such bad luck finding Spotted Salamanders, Ambystoma maculatum, since moving to Michigan.  In a turn of that luck, Spotted Turtles, Clemmys guttata, have been a little easier to turn up. They are never an easy animal to find (Well, in other parts of the state you practically trip over them) but I managed to spot a few of these throughout the spring in different areas of the state.  The turtles are fairly skittish, but I have had luck spotting them basking with binoculars and then getting distant voucher photographs.  Sometimes, I even manage to sneak up on them!

 I started off my spotted bonanza late in March when we had a week of temps in the 80s.  I headed to a county and area I had never hunted before with spotted turtles on the brain.  After driving around for a while checking out possible wetlands, I noticed this turtle basking.



Upon trying to get a little closer, the turtle slipped away.  I was checking out the edge of the wetlands, and noticed another turtle basking in the shallow water.





The turtle didn't move during the photosession and was left exactly how it was found.

I struck out on a few different outings during April, but finally hit gold and found a turtle on a tip from a friend.  He had recommended checking out a nice wetland, although he hasn't seen anything there.  I had actually hunted the area and the wetland back in the fall of 2008, but it had fallen off my radar.  After being unsuccessful most of the morning, I noticed an interesting looking turtle basking on a tussock through my binoculars.


I had my suspicions right away, but it had been a cloudy day and I couldn't quite make out any spots or flashes of color initially.  I stealthily crept closer to finally confirm the ID of the turtle, which is no small feat considering my large stature.  This has been my best find of the year so far, and made my spring because of the location the turtle was found.  I noticed plenty of painted turtles, a bunch of blandings and a snapping turtle but no other spotted turtles were found.

I returned a few days later to try and find more turtles.  The same turtle was basking in the duckweed close to it's location a few days prior.  I was able to identify it by comparing the markings on the head with the previous pictures.






I was still unable to find any other turtles in the area, despite it being extensive.  I returned again about a week or two later with the guy who recommended I check out the area.  He was pretty excited his tip worked out, and we were excited to try and find some more turtles.  Initially only the resident blandings and painteds were noticed, but on the hike out we noticed a flash of orange!

A second turtle!




 So at least there are two!  Hopefully, this small population will continue to persist.  There is extensive wetlands in the area, and although it isn't traditional spotted turtle habitat, it is on state owned land.

In May I had a conference in Chicago, so I decided to check out a few areas in the western side of the state on my drive over.  I basically just chose a few preserves off the map and decided to scout them out.  The first spot is a city park, and has extensive wetlands and bogs, although they are separated by a few roads.  Hiking in was unsuccessful, but I finally noted a turtle with some yellow through my bins.


Painted turtle obscuring a more interesting turtle...
I crept closer, and the painted turtle bailed.


I checked out the bog, which looked amazing, but got skunked.  I moved locations to another county farther west.  It led to a friendly run in with law enforcement, but they were mostly just checking to see that I wasn't poaching or dumping trash.  It's good to see some local wildlife officers keeping tabs on some of the more vulnerable species.  We chatted about herps for a bit and I moved on to a third site.  This site was also basically a bust.  It turned out to have known massasaugas, box turtles and spotted turtles, but I just found tons of painteds and snapping turtle.  Again on the hike out, I came to a pond where I checked out the many turtle heads sticking up and only noticed painteds.  Just before leaving, I spotted a turtle with a yellow chin, and assumed it was a young blandings turtle.  It was climbing out onto a small log, so I snapped a few photos for ID purposes and moved on.  Upon reviewing the photos a few days later I noticed the turtle's head was not typical of a blandings, and that there was color on the back of the head as well.  It wasn't a young blandings, it was another spotted turtle!

Super zoomed craptastic but identifiable picture!
 I herped a bit around Chicago-land, but that story can wait for another day.  On the way home, I checked out another location I chose off the map that I thought might look good.  The place looked perfect!  I can't wait to return, but when I was there it was dark and overcast, with intermittent rain and temps in the low 50s.  No turtles were found, but I am excited to return next spring.  The place had a nice population of pitcher plants, and I also spotted a young watersnake basking in the marl.





As the summer is now blistering hot and dry, most of the turtles are smartly aestivating.  I already can't wait for another spotted spring!

Happy herping!

BH

3 comments:

  1. Super zoomed craptastic but identifiable picture!
    I herped a bit around Chicago-land, but that story can wait for another day. On the way home, I checked out another location I chose off the map that I thought might look good. The place looked perfect! I can't wait to return, but when I was there it was dark and overcast, with intermittent rain and temps in the low 50s. No turtles were found, but I am excited to return next spring. The place had a nice population of pitcher plants, and I also spotted a young watersnake basking in the marl.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I herped a bit around Chicago-land, but that story can wait for another day. On the way home, I checked out another location I chose off the map that I thought might look good. The place looked perfect! I can't wait to return, but when I was there it was dark and overcast, with intermittent rain and temps in the low 50s. No turtles were found, but I am excited to return next spring. The place had a nice population of pitcher plants, and I also spotted a young watersnake basking in the marl.

    ReplyDelete
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