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

Miracles of Life and Dead in the Land of Ooze — 26 June 2001

Staff from the Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies visited Wellfleet today to experience our terrapin research and conservation program.  Unfortunately, the weather didnít cooperate for dip-netting in Blackfish Creek.  Several days of storms and a persistent southwesterly breeze created an impossible turbidity.  So, we chased heads for a few hours ó without success ó then toured the marsh and nesting habitats.

Luckily, the Paludal Posse never rests.  Calls from residents vectored our team to two nesting turtles, one on Indian Neck and one on Lieutenant Island, either shore of Blackfish Creek.

Later in the evening after I checked nesting activity on Turtle Point, I was surprised to find the following view through the jeepís windshield.  Terrapin 1039 had slipped onto Marsh Road right after I passed this spot inbound and began digging her nest in the north track.  She had nested in this precise spot on Bastille Day last year.

For 30 minutes, 1039 first cut through the compacted top layer of dirt road, then scooped and rounded her egg chamber, deposited her eggs, and finished off the nest by tamping down and smoothing the soil.  Afterwards, I marked the spot and placed a temporary protective barrier to guard against predators and inadvertent exposure by traffic.

  

  

Earlier in the day, I had witnessed another of lifeís vignettes, this one featuring predator and prey.  A moon snail slithered across the shallow tidal flats and took aim on a razor clam.