Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Not all our volunteers are in the field (20180718) Turtles in the making!

Well we here at the Turtle Patrol appreciate all the help we get from our volunteers. Many of them spend hours in the field watching for turtles, monitoring females while they lay, and walk with us in the fall to find hatchlings to get to appropriate water bodies. We also have had volunteers from Gracenote come out and do some site remediation. The ladies from AA Munro Insurance built nest protectors for us. So not all of our volunteers are "in the field".
Here is a bit of a story of one of my favourite volunteers: Ellen Turbitt she helps out by knitting.
She spends at least some of her time in her busy schedule knitting little turtles for us here at the Turtle Patrol so that we make provide them to folks who provide us with donations. She has been doing a pretty good job so far. I think she has knit  16 or 17 of these wonderful little "Thank Yous".
She is very happy that she has received a $25 donation for this beauty.
This is a "custom" ordered unit that has been requested from an individual at AA Munro insurance. Andrew wanted something "different" and this is what he is receiving.
We hope we can keep her active knitting and providing our Thank You gifts because that means we have lots of folks to thank for their help--so we can help the turtles. Of course every now and then the turtles want to thank Ellen for their existence and they provide her with little turtle hugs.
Just like other turtles, when the time is right, there is little they like better than a little basking in the sunlight.
I should let you know that Ellen is my mom, and that is why she is my favourite volunteer!
Should anyone out there like a little Thank You memento from the Turtle Patrol all it takes is a little donation :)
Yours in Turtling
Paul T

Friday, 29 June 2018

A Super Volunteer day. (20180621) A Special thank you to Gracenote a division of Neilsen

Earlier this year the Turtle Patrol was contacted by Gracenote to see if we would like some volunteer effort. We were happy to have some strong backs and willing hands. So we made arrangements for them to come out on Neilsen's Global Impact day on June 21st. Clarence handled the arrangements and we ended up receiving 10 volunteers. We decided that we would put them to work doing habitat enhancement at our educational site. Clarence headed down early and to see if we were going to have any live turtles to show our guests and was ready to go at 9:30 when everyone arrived. Upon arrival at our primary educational site we were greeted by Grace. She was sniffing around looking for the "right" place to lay her eggs.
Clarence and I split our crew into two groups, and I took my crew to the second pond and we got to work removing destructive vegetation from the nesting area.
There are specific areas where vegetation is of particular concern as the roots will grow right into the eggs laid by the Snappers and make the eggs unviable. Here is a look at how much the guys in the crew were able to clear up.
I was doing trial trimming to ensure the walk into this site was clear and trimmed so patroller's opportunity to encounter ticks were minimized.
Clarence's crew did a similar stellar job at first pond and the place looks great!
Next it was back to my place for lunch and nice cold water that was supplied by AA Munro Insurance. During lunch Clarence and I answered many questions regarding Snapping turtles andwe hope the Gracenote folks got something out of the session.
We then headed out to our second large patrolling area that contains our greatest population of known nesting females. Here is a quick shot of most of the Gracenote crew, some with their AA Munro water bottles ready for their next stroll and education opportunity.
While we spotted no Snappers we were treated to a viewing of a Painted Turtle basking in the sun- what little was available,
So, once again a special thanks to Gracenote volunteers: Craig Sampson, Aaron Landry, Charles Zwicker, Ian Sutherland, Cliff Wheadon, Tom Bilodeau, Scott Rose, Greg Taves, and Ye Liang. We hope you had a great day and learned a little about our Nova Scotia Snappers. I would also be remiss if I didn't thank Alison Conrad from Deloitte, and Jenn Stotland from Halifax Earth, who also came out on the 21st and provided assistance.
As a followup, here is a shot of Grace just before she laid her eggs the very next day.
She is a beauty!
Take some time and put a little wild in your life today!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Nest Protector construction (20180616) Thanks to AA Munro and Hefler Forest Products.

Well with the nesting season already upon us we finally managed to scrape together enough donations to begin building some "nest protectors" for this and future years Snapping turtles. With lumber trim ends provided by Hefler Forest products, screws and staples provided by my sister, and top-side screening provided by AA Munro we set to work.
I would also like to thank the ladies of AA Munro and friends who provided the labour. Here are just two of the three helpers that the Turtle Patrol had on this beautiful day.
In all we managed to bang together 20 of these boxes for use by the Turtle Patrol. Having a air-assisted stapler helped fabulously.
So now all that is left is to find some nests to protect.
Thanks again to the folks from AA Munro for their generous donation of time and energy, not to mention the most expensive component of a protector, the top-side screen.
A "shout out" also goes again to the folks at Hefler Forest Products for the generous donation of trim ends. Last and definitely not least a huge Thank You to my sister and fellow contructor, Angie!

This effort represents 18 hours of volunteer effort and about the equivalent of $300 in materials.
Thanks for taking the time to read and view!


Friday, 8 June 2018

Our biggest rehabilitation effort to date (20180606) A HUGE thank you to Hefler Forest Products!

Well folks sometimes you just get blown away, that was the case this week as we worked on our largest effort of the year so far.  We had popped in and mentioned to the folks at Hefler that we would like to come in and do some rehabilitation for some nesting Snappers. Dana greeted us warmly and told us we had the go ahead, and mentioned that she would let us know when they had some gravel for us.  On June 4th, Dana let us know that there was gravel available for us to use. What a speedy response. We Headed over on the 5th and started work. The following shots are kind of what we started with. This first shot provides a peek at the gravel pile we had to work with and some of the area we would be working on.

We had material in front of these barriers which we wanted to move behind, in order to encourage our Snapper ladies to lay in a safer environment. 
This far end view shows us our target for a nesting pad. It also illustrates the area by the recently replaced telephone pole that had stirred things up and brought a lot of large aggregate to the surface of area. In the background you can see the pile of gravel. 
Some of the barriers had quite a bit of material that we wanted to move behind. 
So we got started raking and shoveling, shoveling and raking. When it came time to build the pad front end Loader man Terry moved some of our topping to be reused after we installed our gravel bed. 
Talk about efficiency over having to shovel! We were ecstatic that we didn't have to Pick and Shovel all that material. 
After several hours we are happy to report we got the job done! While we didn't use all of the gravel the pile was considerably smaller when we were done. 
The area behind the barriers were all raked up and we ended up with about 4 inches of fresh material added to what was already there.
The fronts of the barriers have all been cleaned up nicely. 
This final shot tells the story of not only the new pad, but also the work that was done by the telephone pole. We were able to create a second pad about 8 feet in diameter in that area that should provide a nesting sight for two or more females. The pad in the fore ground was elevated by about 4-6 inches which should be a wonderful spot for the ladies to get their business done. 
So a BIG shout out to the kind and caring folks at Hefler Forest Products for providing such a wonderful nesting area for the Snappers in the area. What a classy organization. 
Yours in turtling

The Snapping Turtle Breeding Season has Commenced!
The Turtle Patrol has been busy busy busy this spring getting ready for the breeding season. In addition to getting lots of organizational stuff done, meeting with people and passing out business cards like crazy, we have been doing a ton of field work. Already this spring the Turtle Patrol has visited 64 turtle locations. Our main field focus has been preparing these sites for laying females which involved evaluations, cleanups and habitat enhancement.
We have another 10 sites slotted for enhancement this week in the Halifax metro area and we plan to work fast as to the south and west of HRM the Snapping Turtles are already laying.
Our first report came yesterday of a laying female in Kentville at Miners Marsh and this beautiful photo was taken there by Sally Rose. Today a video of a second laying female was captured by Joelle Bezanson at Kejimkujik National Park.
We are now entering our next phase where our main focus will be on patrolling for laying females.  There are a ton of sites that need to be covered so please send me a message and let me know any days any of you are available to do a patrol and we can easily find sites for you to do. 
Yours in turtling,


Monday, 28 May 2018

Some rehabilitation and a new "spot" 20180527 Clarence and Paul do some site work and visit a new site

Sunday morning and Clarence and I are in the truck to so some site inspections and explore an area we wanted to checkout last fall. Our First spot was in one of our Windsor locations where the snappers had terrific success last fall. We had our rakes and a shovel with us and needed them both. This first "rehab" just needed some raking and smoothing before the nesting season.
The next spot started s quite a indentation in the hillside that these snappers use. Here is a shot after we loaded the first several shovels full of material.
It is tough to get the proper perspective on some of these images. The "hole" was about 10 inches (25cms) deep. We raked to recover some of the local gravel that had washed into the pond.
As there was not a lot of sand mixed in with this "washed" material, we had to find a little local mud to add to the the layers of gravel we tossed in. 
 Once we finished, with a little sunshine to dry out the damp material, you wouldn't even know we were there.
Even where we recovered the gravel, you would scarcely see any impact of what we did.
We then headed into our targeted investigation area, and we were very pleasantly surprised by what we found! We met some of the local cottage owners and they were very aware and knowledgeable about the local snappers. The were quite gracious and encouraging in letting us walk our area of interest. Now for the "good news/bad news": we found a high concentration of activity with 27 predated nests from last year. There may have been even more, those were just the nests we could count due to the presence of egg shells. We were also told of a nest that was located in the yard of one of the Cottager's.
We would like to thank Myrtle, Donna, Carl, and Steve for their time and willingness to work with us on the Turtle Patrol!
On the way home we stopped in at two areas where we had single nest success stories last fall and did some raking and shoveling to encourage snappers to lay there again this year.
So three sites visited and rehabbed, and new hot spot to keep an eye on this fall, a really successful day.
We are always looking for volunteers to help with work of this nature, so drop us a line and see if you can help out!

Yours in turtling,

Saturday, 26 May 2018

A little late with this post, but thought I better get it up as soon as I could. Happy Turtle day!

Welcome to World Turtle Day! To celebrate the Turtle Patrol has created a new Facebook page called Turtle Patrol Nova Scotia. The Turtle Patrol's goal is to help our native turtles survive in the wild, to share turtle news and to talk turtles with like minded individuals. If interested you can join us by clicking on the following link:

We look forward to conversing with you!
Yours in turtling,

Saturday, 12 May 2018

First big Turtle release (20180511) Working with Hope For Wildlife

Well the big day has finally arrived May 11, 2018 our first turtle release in conjunction Hope For Wildlife. We had a total off 11 turtles to return to nature after some rehabilitation. Ever seen a truck full of Snappers?
We owe a big Thank You to Hope for Wildlife, they arranged not only for public media to be present but also their own film crew that does the Hope for Wildlife Television show. I am told it might be up to 2 years before the show actually airs as they have a lot of great material already filmed!
Clarence and I have some theories that we are trying to confirm so we are starting to shoot images of the underbelly of any turtles that we can. Just look at the expression this little guys face! This is one of 7 that we released outside of Windsor, Nova Scotia.
H7- Hope for Wildlife release #7 turtle was a real rebel he didn't want to head to the water initially.
With a second attempt H7 headed in the right direction and we just had to keep an eye on him for a bit to ensure he made it into the water.
It was amazing to watch these little bulldozers get through the heavy grasses at waters edge. They just stick their nose in a little hole, drop their front feet and push/drive forward with the hind legs!
After about 20 minutes of H7 getting in the water we spotted him making his way to the large pond that Clarence had selected for these seven snappers to call home.
It was nice that we had so many turtles to release at this one site. It provided us with time to observe early released turtles to occasionally check in and see if we were gone yet.
It is so rewarding to see them feeling at home in their new environment. I am not certain that this little fella didn't want to audition to be a permanent member of the cast.
We finished up our day with Al, he found a beautiful spot to release this last snapper in the Gays Lake watershed. A special thanks to Dan the landowner for allowing us to put this young lady into a piece of snapper heaven.
It is hard to express at just how happy we are with all the results of the day and the feelings of jubilation experienced by the members of Turtle Patrol.

Yours in turtling

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Thanks to Nova Scotia Power (20180501) Our first site enhancement project.

We were notified that Nova Scotia Power had dropped off two yards of gravel at one of our nesting sites that happen to be on their property. So Bernie, Clarence, myself, and Bizzy went in and did some shoveling and raking to enhance two areas for turtles to nest.
It was a nice cool morning, and getting it done at this time of year we avoid the bugs.
It only took us about an hour of effort to finish up. Clarence heard a couple of drumming grouse as he walked in.
I want to once again thank Stephanie and Jeremy from Nova Scotia Power for the generous support for our Nova Scotia "grizzlies"!

Yours in Turtling!

Monday, 23 April 2018

Hope for Wildlife (20180419) The Turtle Patrol's first visit

Thanks to Clarence's many years of contact with Hope, he was able to get us a visit and personal tour of their turtle facilities. I wish to note here that we were treated very well and even took part in their daily scrum, that deals with issues and emergencies.
Here is a look at a couple of the wonderful tubs that they have for the larger turtles.
They have wonderful care and attention daily, with lots to eat. Can you find Waldo in here?
These shots are actually were actually taken on the 23rd as I had returned to get some swabs of the turtles, reasons for that will be explained in a future post.
So now I have to introduce you all the volunteers that contributed to the cause. We (Jenna, Nicole and I) started with the smallest of Snappers that was readily available.
What a ferocious sweetie. This little guy is only about 8 months old and growing like a bad weed. This is all due to a "head start" program. That is where they keep them awake and fed through the winter so they have a great start to the spring. Here is turtle number two.
Next up were a couple of young snappers that had been turned in to Hope as they were being kept by a private individual as pets. This one had a stubby little tail as a result of being kept with other larger snappers.
Aren't these little "grizzlies" neat?  Let me tell you that they are lightening fast even at this age and Jenna had to be careful when holding them.
Here is the largest of the turtles that we swabbed  on this day. Another wonderful speedy striking killer, that is just trying to earn a living. 
This won't be the last time you get to see these beauties. The Turtle Patrol will be there with Hope and the crew when these guys are released into the wild, and I am expecting to be taking photos.
I want to thank Michelle and Susan as well as Jenna and Nicole for all their help today!
Yours in Turtling,