Archive for the 'Turtle Portrait Gallery' Category

Jun 12 2012

Tales of a Turtle Taxi: This Lady’s Not for Turning

With the onset of warm weather, turtles are out and about on the roads. Most are females, who leave their home waters to search for sandy soil in which to deposit their eggs. I met this formidable lady on a town road. While not the largest snapper I’ve encountered, she was pretty good-sized—perhaps half again as big as my helmet. And she had a disposition to match her appearance:

This Lady Is Not for Turning

She’d just begun to cross the road when I first saw her, and I decided to offer her a lift. But as soon as I got close she swiveled around to face me. She moved with lightning speed, too. Try as I might I couldn’t get behind her. (For what I hope will be obvious reasons—the name is a clue—it’s important to approach snappers from the rear. See this page for details.) Things were not going according to script. So I opted for Plan B: gentle persuasion. A windfall limb would serve as my shepherd’s crook. I figured I’d stay with the lady, nudging her away from any danger, until she was off the road and out of harm’s way.

But Plan B was no more successful than the direct approach. When my improvised shepherd’s crook got too near her, the lady simply snapped off the end. Her feelings in the matter were manifestly clear. I didn’t need a second demonstration. Which left me with only one remaining alternative: watchful waiting. So I placed what remained of the deadfall limb in the road to alert oncoming cars and retreated a good 30 yards, hoping that, once I was out of sight, my reluctant fare would decide it was safe to cross.

Success at last! No cars appeared—I was prepared to wave them off if they had—and the lady completed her journey without incident. Soon she was paddling happily in a stream.

On the March

After removing the remains of my truncated shepherd’s crook from the road, I continued on my way, glad that this little drama had ended happily. My fare might have spurned my proffered lift, but she reached her destination alive, making the trek on her own terms. As the remains of less fortunate creatures constantly remind me—I found another snapper further down the road, smashed to pieces by a passing car—even quiet country roads are killing grounds. I can do nothing about that, of course. All life is cheap in the Republic of Happy Motoring. But every now and then I can offer some assistance to a fellow traveler. It’s a good feeling.


Further Reading


Questions? Comments? Just click here!

May 22 2012

“Turtle Taxis” Are on the Road, and Pat McKay Picks Up the First Fare of the Season

Truth to tell, there are days when I just want to do…nothing. Not nothing at all, mind. Just nothing that raises a sweat. I don’t want to cycle. I don’t want to paddle. I don’t want to hike. I just want to sit quietly with a good book, or maybe watch a movie, or sketch one of the many birds that come to my office window.

Still, those days are few and far between, and even when the stay-at-home bug is biting hardest, I’ll often kit up and cycle off round the block, just to keep the blood flowing. Since the “block” in question is about 20 miles around, that’s a pretty good ride in itself. And anyway, I usually feel a surge of energy with the first spin of the crank. There are fringe benefits, too. Now that the days are long and the sun is high, I often see turtles or other creatures in the road. And sometimes I can shepherd them safely across. Much more often, of course, I arrive on the scene too late to do anything more than move an already stiffening body off the asphalt and onto the grass. This makes it a little less likely that the scavengers who’ll soon be drawn to the corpse—vultures, crows, foxes, raccoons, and the like—will also end their days crushed under the wheels of a speeding car.

Needless to say, I don’t much enjoy the role of mortuary attendant. If nothing else, it reminds me how vulnerable I am, perched on a spindly framework of steel tubes as two-ton vehicles muscle past me at three or four times my speed, while their drivers conduct animated “conversations” by text message, darting only occasional glances at the road ahead.

But then, just as these melancholy reflections are about to chase all the joy from my day, a ray of sunlight breaks through the lowering cloud. As it did only last week, when I got an e-mail from Contributing Photographer Pat McKay, reporting the first turtle save of his (and my) year:

I swear the skies were blue when I left the house to go on my bike ride, but then about nine miles into the ride... No, I got caught, but at least I was able to get this little box turtle off the road before the storm reached me.

McKay Box Turtle Rescue

A welcome piece of good news, indeed. Thanks, Pat!


A reminder: If you spend much time on the road, and if you’d like to lend a hand when you see a turtle in trouble, but you’re not entirely sure how to do it safely, just check out the resources listed below. And while you’re at it, print out our “Quick Guide for Turtle Taxis” and carry it with you whenever you venture out. Better yet, make a dozen copies or so and hand them round to all your like-minded friends. Turtle or cyclist, life can be hard for those of us in the slow lane. A little help really can make all the difference.


Further Reading


Questions? Comments? Just click here!

Apr 19 2011

First Turtle Taxi Rescue of the Year

By fits and starts, spring is making its way north to the Adirondacks. The first trilliums are pushing their heads up through the woodland duff, white-throated sparrows are returning to join robins and red-winged blackbirds at household feeders, and the ice is all but gone on most local ponds. But it’s still too cold in the mountains to entice snakes and turtles to venture out and about. That’s not the case in more temperate climes, however, and I’m happy to report the first Turtle Taxi rescue of the year. And who is the good samaritan? None other than a frequent Outside contributor, cyclist and photographer Pat McKay. Here’s his account:

[Last Wednesday] marked the first turtle rescue of the year for me. It seems that every spring its always a snapping turtle, not a docile little box turtle, that I find sunning itself in the middle of the road. The box turtles tend to show up around here when it is a little bit warmer. Isn’t this a great face though? And I’ve still got all 10 fingers!

And here are two photos Pat took of the snapper before he carried her to safety:

Pat McKay Snapper

Pat McKay Snapper

Thanks, Pat, for giving this grande dame a helping hand! And if you’re wondering what you can do when you see a surly snapper (or even a bashful box turtle) who’s about to venture out into harm’s way, you’ve come to just the right place. First, read “Become a Turtle Taxi.” Then print out our Quick Guide and carry it with you whenever you head down the road. Somewhere there’s a turtle who’ll have good reason to be glad you did.

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