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

Youngsters Steal the Show — 07 July 2001

As the second nesting wave subsides, a few youngsters have taken this opportunity to shine.  Chris Burns, a soon-to-be high school senior who has been a key member of the Paludal Posse for the past two years, scored a hat trick of successes in the last 24 hours.  On Friday morning, with a west wind whipping across the bay and obscuring visibility in Blackfish Creek, Chris managed to net the only turtle of the tide: Terrapin 708.  A mature female of 19 centimeters and 1150 grams, she surprised us by showing early signs of gravidity perhaps an indicator that another, unexpected nesting wave may be possible in the 2001 season.

In the evening while bass fishing the channel, Chris spotted turtle tracks leading into the dunes.  Always on paludal duty, he followed the meandering footprints, skipped over false nest after false nest, and finally discovered the actual viable nest (#130), which he quickly placed under a predator excluder.

This morning Chris and I found two other youngsters who simply stole the show.  First time captures, Terrapin 1161 (a 4-year-old male) and Terrapin 1162 (a 5-year-old male) were netted coming through the low tide rip in Blackfish Creek.  At 217 and 224 grams, respectively, these little fellows were feisty, photogenic, and focused on getting back to the good life in Wellfleet Bay.