With the days getting shorter and cool weather settling in, the field season has come to an end! We have been diligently tracking juvenile Blanding’s turtles using radio telemetry equipment in several beautiful bogs, marshes, fens, and vernal pools. Our field team was led by Toby Rowland, and included Kelton Adderley-Heron, Kirstin Pellerin, and Mackenzie Jones. Together, these four worked tirelessly from May until the end of October to wade through muck, portage canoes,  and traverse undulating rocky landscapes in search of juvenile Blanding’s turtles.

From left to right: Kelton, Mackenzie, Kirstin, and Toby at a portage pass.

While the project is focused on tracking juvenile Blanding’s turtles to determine the effectiveness of headstarting as a conservation tool, the team has also been recording information about other wildlife and plants that occur at the field site. There have been lots of interesting observations this year, including a raccoon swimming across open water, stick insects , wood frogs, smooth greensnakes, a million chipmunks, and even some bears!

This bear and her cub were  caught on camera by a motion-activated trailcam that was left at the field site for 3 weeks in September. A beautiful buck came along the same trail just a few days later!

And of course, they found many, many turtles. The team captured all turtles that were encountered and took basic data such as species, age class, sex, weight, and shell measurements. This information (turtle and otherwise) is reported to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Natural Heritage Information Centre to better understand the basic population dynamics of other species in these pristine wetlands and forested areas.

A not-so-hidden Blanding’s turtle peeks out from the water.

Many hours were spent  in this beautiful wetland searching for turtles among the vegetation. It is also home to many frogs, snakes, and birds.

Loons were often encountered when canoeing from one wetland to another.

With our field season over, some of our technicians have  returned to school while others are traveling abroad or working locally, we would like to extend a HUGE “thank you” to Toby, Kelton, Mackenzie, and Kirstin for all of their hard work this season. We would also like to thank all of you for reading the blog series over the past several months. We look forward to sharing more photos, stories, and information with you next year!

By Donnell Gasbarrini – Turtle Programs Manager