[Tweeters] Winter Turtle
dennispaulson at comcast.net
Sat Jan 17 13:06:32 PST 2015
Jeff, I also have seen turtles sunning in the winter on Lake Washington, but they have usually been Red-eared Sliders. My experience is that Painteds are quite a bit less common in the lake than the sliders. Not that I’m saying you didn’t see a Painted, which are certainly present at the fill, but for future turtle watchers be aware there are at least two species, Painted with the plastron (lower shell) and edge of carapace (upper shell) red and Red-eared with it yellow or darkly obscured. Red-eared, as its name implies, has a red patch or stripe on either side of the head, but big males become dark and don’t have the red patches; they are quite common. If you see bright yellow stripes on the head with no sign of red, that should be Painted.
It’s possible that Painted Turtles, like Red-eared Sliders, are introduced into the lake by ex turtle keepers. Turtles live a loooong time, and those cute babies that people used to buy in pet stores get a bit too big for their bowl or aquarium eventually. There are so many of both species in L. Washington now that I assume they are breeding successfully. Both Spiny Softshells and Snapping Turtles, obviously released captives, have been found in L. Washington, and maybe there are other species as well.
On Jan 17, 2015, at 12:00 PM, tweeters-request at mailman1.u.washington.edu wrote:
> Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:59:56 -0800
> From: Jeff Gibson <gibsondesign at msn.com>
> Subject: [Tweeters] Winter Turtle
> To: tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
> Hey, its winter here in the Northern hemisphere. It's January and you're stuck somewhere between latitude 48 and 47 N. and you wanna see a turtle. Where would you go?
> Idaho? Montana? North Dakota? Minnesota? Michigan? Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland? No, intelligent turtles in these areas are safely snoozing at the bottom of ponds, lakes, etc., deep enough to keep from becoming popsicles.
> Hopping on your GPS - guided paddle board, you head across the North Atlantic. Maybe you could see one of those giant marine turtles, the Leatherback, out in the gulf stream, or whatever. But in January? I don't know. Onward to France.
> I've never been, but isn't France kinda cold in the winter? And Northern Yerp is short on Herps on a warm day, as I understand it. January turtles in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia? Not too likely. Gotta keep moving East, to Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, northern China, Mongolia. Good luck on those January turtle sightings.
> Well back on the ol' GPS -guided paddle board, now crossing the mighty Pacific. Again, maybe you might see a giant Leatherback (the worlds largest turtle, which apparently achieves it's might by eating mostly jellyfish). But in January, at our chosen latitude? Again, I don't know.
> Thank God, the paddling is over as you hit the beach in good ol' Washington state, USA. Crossing the Olympic peninsula, Puget Sound, and in to Seattle, where you finally find your winter turtle on a log in Lake Washington. Yes folks, all you had to do was be at the Fill on January 13th, like I was, to see a winter turtle - a nice big Painted Turtle. It was an amazingly warm January day - warm enough for flies for the Butterbutt's (both Audubons and Myrtle) to flycatch.
> A winter turtle. Neato. Turtles, are pretty cool creatures in my opinion. Despite being cold-blooded creatures, even in a cold lake like Washington they really can be quite zippy. (note: that Aesop's Fable was titled 'The Tortoise and the Hare', not ' The Turtle and the Hare' - tortoises really are kinda slow).
> Some of these pond turtles can be remarkably agile. Several years ago, on a summer vacation to southern Ontario, I came across several Painted Turtles in interesting positions. This was at The Pinery provincial park on lake Huron. There, in a quiet slough, I found these turtles perched high on narrow limbs that arched up from some partially submerged logs. Unless turtle carapaces open up like a beetle's and they unravel hidden wings and fly while we're not watching; or unless they can levitate (my spiritual advisors say no), I guess these turtles are pretty accomplished climbers. It would be neat to see them in action.
> One turtle in particular, perched at the very tip of a two-inch branch 4 ft above the water, looked like a slo-mo version of one of those plate-spinning tricks - you know, that deal where somebody gets a plate spinning on the end of a stick. Except the turtle was just sitting there, all it's feet sticking out. "Look Ma, I'm flying!" it might have exclaimed, if turtles could exclaim.
> Well, I guess that's enough turtle talk - a bit of Vitamin T for winter.
> Jeff Gibsonvisiting the ol' hometownSeattle Wa
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