This is the time of year when I spend several mornings a week in the woods cutting up firewood from trees I have down the year before. Yesterday, I got going early while it was cool (46 degrees) and was just starting on the branches of a soft maple when I noticed what looked to be a cow patty in the ferns just under my chain saw. We have no cows on our land so I shut down and took a closer look. I was surprised to see a big turtle, just lying there dormant in the morning chill. Here’s a look:
I took a stick and moved the ferns aside for a photo. The guy/gal was not very interested in me.
I moved the ferns back in place and went on with my work, cutting up a couple of loads of maple chunks, bringing them up to the wood lot, splitting them with a maul, and stacking them. It was a good workout and I decided to cool off and do some turtle research.
At first, I thought it was a Wood Turtle since we were in the woods and pretty far from any water. But they only grow from 6 to 9 inches and the pattern on the shell seemed wrong.
After lunch, I decided to go back out and measure the turtle if it was still there. Sure enough, it had not moved and I got about 11 inches in length for the shell – just using the rule in the air over the guy. The lighting was better so I took another iPhone shot.
Just before I left him, I took a close-up of him/her eyeballing me.
It was a neat encounter and pretty low stress for both of us. I suspect he wandered off in the night but in any case, I always wear steel-toed boots when wood cutting and should feel more comfortable tromping through knee-high ferns. I suspect I’ll not see him again but it is cool to know that he, or she, is out there on our land.