Friday, September 9, 2011

Rescuing a painted turtle

Yesterday while driving home from the village, I saw a black thing on the road. As I drove past I realized it was a turtle trying to cross.

I quickly pulled a turn into the driveway ahead of me and raced back to where I'd seen the little guy. It had similarly raced to the shoulder of the road and quickly tucked its head back into its shell as it saw or sensed my car driving close. Must be an experienced turtle, especially since it was so large - at least ten inches from nose to the end of its shell. (I learned later it may have been a female which is the larger and also about that size. It must have been quite old.)

As I approached it started making a beeline for the ditch. Unfortunately the county roads department has decided that all the vegetation in the roadside ditches and along the edges must be scoured before winter so that no snow catches in them. This has meant in many cases that lovely young tress that have seeded in naturally and are now a mere two or three feet tall, daisies, sweet peas, dogwood bushes and some of the lovely wildflowers and much needed natural vegetation has been swept in front of the monster machine that tears it all up and leaves it behind in a dead heap along the sides of the roads. Not a pretty sight, and certainly not one that people who like to drive in the country and see how lovely it is, expect to see - but that's another blog.

The turtle headed for the scoured area, and while I was pretty sure it could get there, wasn't too sure that the machine wasn't going to come back. So I picked it up.

I set it down through a fence away from what I perceived to be a dangerous situation and headed to the car. Looking back I didn't see the turtle, so I went to the other side of the fence and found it making its way along the fence in the tall grass. Once again I picked it up and moved it onto what was obviously someone's mown lawn - a lawn of about 100 or more yards lining a long driveway back to a home hidden behind more trees but close to the river.

The turtle headed for the driveway.

I tried herding it by walking near it and trying to turn it in the direction of safety - long grass and a potentially safer place with lots of insects and water, the unmown part of this field leading back to the river. The turtle was having none of this. So once again I picked it up.

As we walked towards the longer grass it stopped trying to push my hands away with its strong legs and just sort of gazed around. It must have been so surprised to see things from a different point of view. A big world out there.

It headed off towards safety after I set it down in the grass - alive thank goodness - and probably for a long time to come, given its size and the lack of marks from accidents on its shell, an apparent survivor. It was heading towards the river. I didn't want to take it there myself, figuring it had a destination of its own.

Made me happy and set the rest of the day into a great groove. Hope you get a good groove going yourself today.


  1. An adventure for you AND the turtle. Here's wishing it many more years of safe wandering.