Sunday, June 26, 2005

Turtle Eggs

The box turtle whose territory includes our property laid her eggs Friday evening. I noticed her at about 5:30 when I stepped onto the back deck. She was standing on some stones below the deck and then walked off onto the grass. She started digging with her hind legs at 5:48 p.m. She chose a spot within five or six feet where we had seen her nest in 2001 and 2003. The lawn slopes very slightly to the west and she positioned herself so she was facing uphill.


I watched her from several different positions. An hour after she started she was still digging. Her forelegs gripped the front edge of the hole; her rear legs would alternate, one leg digging deep, the other bracing herself against the side of the hole. The hole was roughly conical, and maybe as much as eight inches deep.

At 7:30 I decided her stamina was better than mine, so I made a gin and tonic. She was still digging. At 7:50 I noticed that she had drawn her head in. Through binoculars I could see an egg drop into the hole. She kept at it, laying eggs and eventually covering them, until it grew dark. At 9:24 I took a last look. The hole was covered and the box turtle was about to slip under the deck for her rest.


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