Autumn Turtles at Blackwater NWR

I came across the last of my turtle photos taken during two visits at Blackwater NWR from the end of October to the first week of November.

With our delay in Autumn, temperatures were still high enough, allowing the turtles to delay winter hibernation and continue to do what they do best……basking.

 

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Eastern Painted Turtles

 

Our temperatures haven’t surpassed 50°F degrees much the past several weeks, so the turtles are now hibernating.  They bury themselves in mud up to three feet deep, in water no more than seven feet deep.

 

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Eastern Painted Turtle

 

For the first time in all the years I’ve been going to Blackwater NWR, I spotted a new-to-me turtle species, a pair of Red-bellied Cooters.  They are the largest recorded basking turtle in the Chesapeake Bay region.

 

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Red-bellied Cooters

 

Red-bellied Cooters are extremely shy and easily scared, so they are rare to sight up close.  I felt lucky to see this pair on both visits on the same log perch.

 

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Red-bellied Cooters

 

Both Eastern Painted Turtles and Red-bellied Cooters can live up to 40-50 years.

 

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Eastern Painted Turtle

 

 

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