Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quest for Clemmys

Last weekend, I had some free time and decided to go explore and area I've been meaning to get to for some time on the west side of the lower peninsula. This large tract of state land is a nice mosaic of community types and home to some of the tougher to find species in the state. My hopes for the day were to potentially bump into a black rat snake or box turtle, but that ended up being for another day. A friend pointed me to some wetlands in the area which may potentially hold massasaugas. At my first spot, I struck out on rattlesnakes but bumped into this pretty girl.

Spotted Turtle - Clemmys guttata

A sharp looking turtle indeed, this is one of nicest individuals I've seen in the field. The fen I was walking though was just off a lake edge and similar to some areas I've spotted turtles in the past. I ended up seeing two more in this small fen and made sure to take some GPS coordinates on the spot. I only managed to snap a quick shot of this young individual as it was burrowing into the marl substrate of the fen.

Most of my day was spent driving habitat looking for good area to stop for rat snakes or box turtles. During the afternoon, I passed several roadside buttonbush swamps and some of them held some nice surprises.

This particular wetland was loaded with spotted turtles, I likely saw 7-8 in this algae-covered expanse before the buttonbush got too thick. Being used to seeing spotties in super high quality fens and then seeing them in this setting was quite different, but a welcome change. I snapped the best shots that I could from a distance with my telephoto as the turtles stared back at me. I decided to call it a day and start heading back to CMU, however I did pit stop at a small vernal pool one county over to see if there were any spotties out there too. I was greeted with this sight, 11 spotted turtles basking in the same area.

It was a fun day indeed, although I did not find my primary target species. But exploring a new area and seeing a species which is imperiled in the state in good numbers was well worth the trip itself, hopefully this is a good sign for this species in Michigan.

1 comment:

  1. Nick, this is an incredible post. Great job on all the spotties. They are so, so cool and your pictures of them (especially the last one...) are great. Made me want to go look for them myself even more than I already did.