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Don Lewis, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
Fox Island Wildlife Management Area

Two Queens, a Princess and a Spotted Knave — 11 June 2001

Nesting on Lieutenant Island continued this morning. A summer resident, who returned for the season just last evening, discovered Terrapin 1070 emerging from the Turtle Pass marsh and heading upland along the island’s main road. By the time we reached her, she had the typical moist sandy face which usually accompanies nesting activity and an examination revealed she had already deposited her eggs. Interestingly, #1070 had been recently observed on 17 May by AmeriCorps volunteers tagging horseshoe crabs about a mile away in Blackfish Creek. At the time, she weighed 1010 grams. After nesting, she had dropped to 967 grams.

A second female, #1107, was disturbed while digging a nest in a driveway on Lieutenant Island. She abandoned the nearly completed hole which lacked only widening of the egg chamber for completion. The packed substrate felt as hard as concrete.

With kickoff of the nesting season, it was time to haul out our hoop net in Wrong Step Creek. We certainly didn’t want to trap females paddling through flooded creek channels to reach upland nesting sites. The net had been anchored in this location since late April, checked at each low tide, and had resulted in zero captures. So, at high tide this afternoon, I untied the net from its moorings on the bank and pulled it ashore. To my utter surprise, a young terrapin was inside the hoops. #1109 proved to be a 6-year-old, pre-pubescent female which measured a little over 11 centimeters long and weighed a mere 233 grams.

Returning from nesting checks of Indian Neck, I hit the brakes as I entered Lieutenant Island Road from the main drag, Route 6. Basking in the middle of the west bound lane sat a small dark turtle. With traffic approaching seasonal volume and, regrettably, seasonal speeds, this critter would have been road kill in short order.


I was surprised to discover he was a spotted turtle, not often seen in this neck of the woods and rarely observed basking in the morning traffic. He may have been around 8 years old, measured a mere 10.29 centimeters, and weighed only 127 grams. On release, he was coaxed down a wooded hillside toward his probable home bog.