Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Video-Snapping Turtle laying eggs on the Moira Riverfront Trail

Watching a female snapping turtle while she was laying her eggs and burying the nest along an urban path was like stepping back in time. It was an odd feeling. Time stood still. Turtles take their time, and they have endured through the ages.

Her face was covered in sand, dirt, and gravel. I felt a bit sorry for her. Then I noticed her beady little eyes trained on me while she continued her methodical task. I wondered what she was thinking as I took pictures from a distance so as not to disturb her business at hand. She really had no choice. She couldn't stop now. This is a very vulnerable moment for a turtle, or any creature giving birth or laying eggs.

It was such an odd sight to come across a snapping turtle digging a nest and laying eggs as we were cycling along the Moira Riverfront Trail in Belleville, Ontario, Canada.

While she laid her eggs, her prehistoric-looking spiked tail was braced inside the nest to hold her up in the sandy hole she'd dug with her tough, wrinkly hind legs and clawed feet.
It was hard to believe she could cover the nest with soft sand using only those big clumsy hind-feet without damaging the delicate little eggs underneath. But she did, skillfully, carefully and slowly using her tail braced across the hole to elevate herself above the nest while she shifted her weight right and left and scooped sand over the eggs. Her tail is a very important tool! She used it the way we use a jack to elevate a car and change a tire.
When she finished covering her nest with soft sand and gravel she crawled a few inches away.
Then she collapsed and laid flat and motionless in the grass. You could see that she was completely spent. Her exhaustion was evident by the look in those beady little black eyes and by the way she lay.
She needed a few moments to rest before desending the little hill to the banks of the Moira River where she lived, a tributary of Great Lake Ontario in the Bay of Quinte, Belleville, Ontario, Canada.
As I look at the video I took of her, I wonder why were we so excited to see a big female snapping turtle laying her eggs along an urban path in June.

If we saw professional footage of a turtle laying eggs on a television program we wouldn't blink an eye. It's the awe and wonder of surprise that catches our breath when we come across something unplanned and unexpected and witness it as it naturally unfolds.

If you watch the video, you'll hear it in my voice. I'm not out of breath from cycling.

People keep making me stop to look at turtles. I never seem to find them on my own.

Uh, oh. What's next for me and turtles? So far I've missed everything in between. Mating season! Don't think I'd film that!

You may also enjoy my most popular Turtle story called . . . Turtles!

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler