The first of the annual snapping turtle hatch has begun along the Blackstone River. Each spring we come across many turtles digging holes and laying eggs, but the giant snapping turtles are the ones I like. Gnarly, black/grey, with remarkably long necks, they make their way from the murky river to a spot in the sun, patiently dig the hole, deposit the eggs, then wander back
Without a second thought of how, or if, the eggs survive.
Most do not. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, all have their turn at finding and digging up the nests. The egg-laying takes place over two weeks. Over the next few days, there are grey/white eggshells everywhere.
It’s a wonder the species survives.
But they do. Beginning in late August or early September, those nests that remained undisturbed erupt with life.
As evidence of the perseverance of nature, we came upon this little guy trying to cross the bike path. Usually, I defer to nature. It is not for me to decide if this turtle survives or dies within hours of hatching but, I made an exception.
My reason for interceding in the process is simple. The bike path is not a natural barrier to the turtle’s march to the river. The trail is the domain of dangerous, if goofy looking, predators; hordes of Lance Armstrong wannabes zoom up and down the path festooned in the most ridiculous bike racing accouterments. It is a drag queen bike race of the fashionably challenged. I bet the advertisers adorning stretched and strained material never expected that kind of publicity.
Fixated on maintaining the balance of their stitch-straining bulk squeezed into the neon fashion nightmare, they’d crush the turtle without a second thought.
Just once I’d like to see them hit a full-grown snapper. There, I’d leave nature to its course.
It would give me great pleasure watching them launched into the air. I know turtles are carnivorous, but it might be too much to hope the saga would end with a bale (the name for a gathering of turtles) devouring the biker.
In my imagination, the trees would be swarmed by a murder of crows (another excellent group name) waiting patiently to clean the bones.
It hasn’t happened yet, but there is hope.
Absent any air-borne bikers to watch, I picked the little guy up and took him to the marshy area along the river, far from the dangerous bike path of death.
I don’t know if he or she will survive the winter, but I hope they do. I hope they grow big and healthy and robust.
I hope they develop a taste for bikers. That would be a great example of evolutionary progress.