Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Cherry on Top

Sometimes, it's not about finding a new bird. Sometimes it's about something more.

    It's not about the elegant Ibis.

 Or the tattered gull........

 Or the scenic views.....

Or the millions of Sandpipers which included Bairds, Semipalmated, Stilt, Least and Westerns!

    Yes, it was ID hell:)  But worth the effort.......but it wasn't about that either......

Or the Dowitchers......

Not even the Curlews......

Or the plovers......

But this one was cool:)  Here's a closer shot.  Different bird but still a Semipalmated Plover. 

Or even A RARE(for the area) Common Nighthawk.......!  That was a WOW moment for both Kathie and myself.

It was about this turtle that crossed the road.  The world sped by not really noticing how special this gal was.  Teenagers and other drivers carelessly drive around Lake Cochise, Willcox to drink their beer or just ride their trucks and dirt bikes. This little turtle was in the middle of the road.  Kathie stopped the car and I got out to make sure she wouldn't get run over.  I left when I knew she was safe.  I told another driver about the turtle and she seemed to shrug this turtle off for she was there to film the Wilson's Phalaropes. Everyone went on their merry way.  I went home and looked up the turtle more.

The Ornate Box Turtle is near threatened(more so in Arizona) and one of the most difficult turtles to find out in the wild.  Much like the Montezuma Quail, Elegant Trogons or Flammulated Owls, you have to be in the right place at the right time to see them.  I'm no reptile expert so I couldn't truly appreciate the experience.  If you live in Arizona and find this turtle, please go to this website here and help the folks out. There are paper reports you can fill out, but I just emailed the sightings with these pics answering the paper form questions.  They'll document the rest.  I was asked if there had been rain the night before and the location of the turtle. Other questions were "What was the turtle observed doing?" and "What was the weather like?" One thing to note (and I found this extremely important to share)....  NEVER pick a turtle up!  One. They have bacteria that can be harmful to humans.  And two(most important).  If a turtle is picked up, it will many times urinate or rid itself of liquid which will many times dehydrate the turtle. Finally, never bring these turtles home as it is against the law. We have such an easy way to count birds instantly but as for everything else, it's still a little old fashioned.  The data is important to scientists and other herpers(the reptile people)

A special "thank you" goes out to my FB friend Tonia for alerting me about this rare find and leading me through the proper channels for documentation. As Kathie puts it, the birds are what we do, but everything else is like the cherry on top.  She thought our Great Horned Owl find was the cherry on top.  Is there a limit on how many cherries one can have?
As you can see, this summer has been full of wonderful herpe surprises. This is just a small group of all the lizards, snakes, frogs, toads and turtles.I've seen on the trail.  More exciting reports coming up......


  1. This is truly a WOW post. Your finds are so wonderful, even the way you captured them. All of them are like cherries on top.

  2. I love all the birds, lizards and the turtles. I am glad you were there to help this turtle cross the road. Wonderful photos. Great post, Chris!

  3. At least you saved the Turtle so a gold star if not a cherry.

  4. i do pick up the turtles here but it's because i return them to the pond. but i do know that they have salmonella and other bacteria that can be harmful and wash my hands afterwards.

    glad you got to see this rarity!

  5. Nice turtle story. I'm glad he didn't get run over. I would have picked him up so now I know better!

  6. Estupendo lugar para las aves acuáticas. un saludo..

  7. Ptaki uwielbiasz i znasz ich bardzo dużo. Widzę, że i inne zwierzęta Cię interesują i to bardzo miłe. Pozdrawiam.
    Birds love and know them very much. I see that other animals you are interested in and it's very nice. Yours.

  8. It may not be about this or that---but it's definitely about anything out in nature... Let's take care of our earth --and and critters on it (except for mosquitos I think)... ha ha

    Love your birds--but I also feel your passion about that turtle.


  9. I enjoy seeing the herps as much as the birds. This is a great post, Chris!

  10. I always enjoy reading your posts, Chris! They are so heartfelt:) Coming across this rare, threatened turtle was a treat indeed! My favorite part of exploring the natural world is you truly never know what is going to be your cherry that day!

  11. I hope not Chris, you have quite a bowl full there :) interesting about the turtles..

  12. Wonderful story Chris - so glad you were able to make sure it was safe and a great discovery too.

  13. Hi Chris:) Sorry it's taken me so long to visit you, but ever since I returned from vacation, internet
    problems have prevented me from commenting.

    First time I have seen your header, and it's stunning! Wow! What an incredible scene!

    I love your story telling, and am
    so pleased you saw to it that the rare turtle got to the other side of the road. Good info also, and a great post.

  14. I just picked up a painted turtle taking its time to cross the road in our subdivision.. blocks! from the nearest water...surely it would have been hit by a car..or worse...taken home by some nutty teenager....
    I took it to the pond and let it go......
    they are studying box turtles in Iowa at lOST conjunction with Lincoln park zoo
    So far the worst thing are the hog snakes....
    glad you saved this beauty

  15. Nice that turtle did not get run over ...It's so nice to read your stories and look your pictures..

  16. It seems so strange to me that a birder wouldn't also think other wildlife was special. Hmmm. I just don't "get" some people.

  17. So now you're a herps birder. Cool. Thanks for giving her a chance.

  18. Love, love, love the box turtle. I have yet to see one in the wild, although I share my home with one :)

  19. Chris, well said and well done! and I have egg on my face as well, for even I did not get out to see the turtle! (I am glad that you got out to make sure it got safely off the road though. I would have done the stupid thing and picked it up! Now I know better!)


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