Amphibian encounter

The most exciting part of today’s Falcon Watch (for me, anyway) wasn’t Pringle’s prolonged and sometimes wobbly flapping, although it was a close second. It was saving a Snapping Turtle intent on crossing Riverside Drive near Billings Bridge.

I was biking home from Heron Rd. when I saw a couple that had stopped to look at a large turtle on the very edge of Riverside westbound. I could see it was a snapper, and it was about to step out onto the very busy road. So I ran over, grabbed it (being careful to keep my fingers out of biting range) and placed it on the grass a few feet back.

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Naturally, it headed straight back to the road, so I called Nancy, who was still up on Heron and has a turtle rescue box in her car. She said to just carry it across the road in whatever direction it was heading, because it was probably looking for a place to lay eggs. A small crowd had gathered in the meantime, and one brave gentleman carried the turtle across to the grassy area between the westbound and eastbound lanes of Riverside.

Problem was, this would be a terrible spot to leave a turtle, because she’d have to cross Riverside again when she was done laying her eggs, and there might be no one there to carry her safely across. But if we carried her back to the other side now, she’s just turn around again. What to do?

Just then, I saw that Chris had messaged me, and he seems like the kind of person who would know what to do about a stubborn snapper — he’s sometimes a bit snappish himself :). He told me pretty much what Nancy did.

In the meantime, the turtle had tried her hand (foot?) at digging a hole and was clearly unimpressed with the soil quality. So she circled back to the road, thus disproving the running theory among the assembled that she just wanted to do a bit of shopping at Billings Bridge Plaza.

So the brave guy waited for a break in traffic, picked her up again and carried her back to the north side of the pavement. Three of us waited for a while to see what she would do, hoping she’d head back to the water. She slooooooooooooowly lumbered back to the riverbank, gingerly made her way down the steep bank and disappeared with a splash, flushing a Northern Flicker in the process.

Then I went home and washed my hands. Turtles are pretty smelly.

Pringle, June 20

Pringle catches some early morning rays, June 20

But back to Pringle … his parents fed him a few times today and even spent some time hanging out with him on the nest ledge, so I didn’t think he would try to fly. But his flapping was such that he came close to being blown off the ledge a couple of times.

We did get a chance to see him standing right next to Rowena at the front of the ledge, which gave us a chance to compare their size. He is most definitely much smaller than his mom, so I’m standing by yesterday’s conclusion that he is a he.

A big thank you to Dominique, John C., Jorgen, Nancy and Fern for helping out today!

Now here are yesterday’s photos:

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Pringle and parent, June 19

Martha, June 19

Martha, June 19

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