After a relatively mild winter, spring has sprung it seems. We’re in that slippery sloshy season where abundant rains hopefully bring bountiful mushrooms and plentiful prey for wildlife. The warmth has already brought out the frogs, turtles and snakes, some of which I got to see on a recent trip to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I got to see one of those curious legless lizards, the Western Slender Glass Lizard which I assumed was a small fast snake at first, and a large common snapper just beneath the shallow water of the Great Marsh at Indiana Dunes. This snapper was large enough to push some floating logs out of its way, which was how I saw it in the first place.
Today’s painting is of the turtle variety. At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens, NY, I got to assist Dr. Russ Burke, professor at Hofstra University, with his turtle research in the West Pond one day with Biological Science Technician and turtle researcher Kayleigh Erazmus. There were two turtles caught in one hoop trap: a huge 30-year old common snapper turtle and a small diamondback terrapin. Imagine the bewilderment of being confined in such a small space with each other. But they were retrieved quickly, separated (with some struggle) and duly measured, weighed and tagged. The Eastern Box Turtle is also another turtle that lives at the wildlife refuge. Seldom seen, it is quite a treat to encounter one. Their ornate yellow pattern stands out against the scrubby vegetation of the upland areas where it tends to live. Still, these three turtles, as well as other kinds, exist on the protected land of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, an oasis in the metropolis that is New York City.