Tuesday, August 6, 2019,
This is an Eastern Box Turtle. I encountered this little lady at Sweetbriar Nature Center. She’s not quite a full-grown adult yet. While no longer a baby, she still has at least an inch to grow.
I was able to discern her gender using two methods. The first, which is not foolproof, concerns the color of the eyes. Males tend to have bright red or orange irises, whereas females usually have brown eyes. A more certain method of determining the sex of a Box Turtle is to pick the turtle up and have a good look at the plastron, or bottom shell. The plastrons of the males are concave which comes in handy during mating.
There are a few more methods that can be used to differentiate between male and female Box Turtles but, judging by the look she’s giving me here, perhaps enough is enough. Maybe that conversation can wait for another day. JK
Tuesday, July 30, 2019,
This is another Diamondback Terrapin that I found at West Meadow Creek in Setauket. I realize that from the angle that I took this photo that this turtle may look small but this is a case in which looks are deceiving. This beauty is a full grown female Terrapin and she is returning to the creek after having laid her eggs on shore. JK
Thursday, July 11, 2019,
This is a female Diamondback Terrapin. She’s digging a hole in which she will probably lay her eggs. Sometimes a Terrapin will dig several test holes before deciding that she has found the right place or the proper consistency of sand. Think Goldilocks and porridge. JK
Wednesday, May 8, 2019,
These are two photos of a pair of Common Snapping Turtles mating, The female is only apparent in the top pic but, trust me, she’s present in both photographs. I’ve seen this at least four times before but every other time that I’ve witnessed this, I was in a kayak. This is my first “by land” sighting.
This occurred at Frank Melville Park in Setauket while I was waiting and hoping to find Green Herons nesting at the park. To answer your immediate question, yes, it does appear that the Green Herons are nesting here for at least the fourth year in a row. These Snapping Turtles are merely a bonus but, oh!, what a bonus. It’s not every day that you come across something like this. As this was going on – and it went on for at least thirty minutes – I was calling people over, not just fellow photographers, but folks with dogs and Moms and Dads with kids in tow. Everyone seemed to enjoy the show.
Despite appearances, this is a happy turtle. Now, as a matter of size and strength, his head is about the same size a grown man’s fist. Check out the size of his foreleg. That is mostly muscle. Imagine just how strong this guy is. And now, think about this: Snapping Turtles are the largest turtles in this and every other freshwater pond on Long Island, but this guy and his girlfriend are not the biggest Snapping Turtles at Frank Melville Park. Not by a long-shot. There are at least two much larger Snappers at the park and if you’re ever lucky enough to see them, they will take your breath away. JK