M26 Male. The brightest orange patterned turtle in this local population, he was found crossing the road on 6/5/14 by Steve, a park employee. At 430 grams he is not particularly large, but travels long distances quickly in steep terrain and through heavily overgrown meadow. Found on 6/5/14, M26 traveled 1.1 miles in a large broad loop in steep terrain, and on 7/6/14 was back near the original road crossing location and crossed the road again and quickly took a straight line route north into rough terrain out of radio range. He was re-found, tracked and lost again.
M27 Male, 525 grams. This turtle, totally painted white, was found by an employee in 2012 in a parking lot within my study area, and was moved into the woods to avoid being run over. Likely an abandoned pet, he evidently remained in the area through 2 winter hibernations, and was found 6/8/14 meeting with turtle M19(M), only about 1000 feet from the parking area where he was originally found.
With most of the paint nearly warn off, he is being tracked as a member of this population. This turtle seems too large to have been aquired as a juvenile, and I wonder if he was taken from the wild as an adult nearby, and later released near where he was captured. His continued presence brings up a number of questions about box turtle homing abilities, as well as repatriation of adults to a new area (if indeed he was introduced here into a new home site).
Only 1 or 2 days after emergence, turtle M20, a three legged male tracked over the past two seasons, was lost. He was wearing 2 working transmitters throughout hibernation, but both were pulled off at the hibernation site and the turtle was never re-found.
M28 Photographed and moved off the road early morning 6/27/14 by Rebecca, a park employee. The turtle was photographed, but not measured or tagged, but at 3 years old, surely represents the youngest turtle found within this study area. Box turtles of this age are very rarely seen crossing roads, probably because they don't yet travel very far from their nest sites. Turtles M20 and M21 traveled into this area during the 2013 season.
M29 a 385 gram male was found mating with turtle M25 in the meadow on 7/13/14 and remained in the meadow until the end of the season.
M30 a 470 gram male was found on 7/19/14 mating with turtle M6 in the heavily overgrown part of the meadow a few days after she was observed nesting near by.
M31, a 330 gram male, was found on 7/30/14 in a power line ROW while tracking M3. Certainly a long ranging transient. What direction he came from is unknown.
2014 was the warmest year on records.
The past winter was particularly cold with numerous periods of record lows, 7 snow storms, and otherwise dry, but didn't appear to have any effects on turtle emergence dates. The numerous species of native orchids emerged somewhat early, hardy, and with a profusion of new small individuals. There have been more Bald faced hornet nests seen this summer than for many previous years, making tracking hazardous.
M1 (F) has barely left her south facing slope all this season
M4 (F) Followed the same annual routes within the ROW, except for quick trip to the edge of the road. She did not cross. On 8/31 M4 crossed the ridge and started a long straight stretch into the hollow. She traveled 2.6 miles this season. Tracked since 2009, this is entirely new behavior
M6 (F) Crossed the road, nested, and spent lots of time there before returning. Mated twice (observed) before heading back downslope to her primary activity area. Crossed the road east to west at night and was found mating the following day. M6 was found to have her eyes completely covered late in the season, but she eventually made it to her previous years exact hibernation site. She was removed and transported to the Wildlife Center of VA. for treatment. M6 traveled 1.6 miles this season.
M8 (M) 2.4 miles this season
M9 (F) Did not cross the road this season as normal in past years. She was not observed nesting this year but spent more time than usual in the power line ROW where she was found near M3 and other males. M9 traveled 1.1 miles this season.
M10 (M) 2.1 miles
M11 (F) 2.3 miles. Traveled back exactly to her 2013 HIB site near the road on 9/16/14 and ended up hibernating a few yards away.
M12 (M) 2.1 miles
M13 (M) Was tracked from emergence, but disappeared suddenly with 2 transmitters on-board. I was afraid that he had been picked up and carried off while crossing the highway, but M13 was re-found much later in the season, across the highway in the woods (orange route) on 9/21/14, over 3 months after disappearing out of radio range. He was tracked into hibernation at the exact same stump hole used last season.
M14 (M) A young turtle growing up and exploring new territory every season. Traveled 2.2 miles in 2014, much futher than any past season (tracked since 2010), crossing the road for the first time (three times). He re-crossed E. to W. after about a month, crossing at 12:59 P.M. He then re-crossed W. to E. again and eventually hibernated a very long distance from his traditional activity area and HIB location.
Update: M14 was killed during the 2017 season by a tractor mowing the meadow
M15 (M) 2.7 miles traveled this season after experiencing a very cold winter. He spent more time north of the ridge top than ever observed before.
M16 (M) Re-found for the third time and re-tagged. M16 is an important member of this population, found mating several times each season, always at the same place; the ROW corner. This location is likely another "meeting area", frequented by a number of turtles only once or twice during a season.
M18 (M) Largest male, traveled 1.8 miles this season. He was moved into the woods several times as the meadow was being mowed, but returned on his own following the mowing. He hibernated at the meadow edge only feet from a previous HIB location.
M19 (M) Travled 4.4 miles and met with M27 (M), who is now being tracked. He hibernated on 10/18/14 at exactly the same location as last year. M19 quickly traveled out of radio range a number of times this summer.
M21 (M) Traveled 2.1 miles, mostly in the same ravine-ROW corridor as previous years. Mated (observed) with M6 and M24, and met with M31 and M3 in ROW after traveling back from the vista cut area below the road where he hibernated last season.
M24 (F) 1.1 miles traveled, mostly when traveling to nesting site. Primarily stays in ROW and nearby, close to HIB site. M24 was stricken with Mycoplasma the year and her eyes were completely occuded as a result. She was removed from here HIB site (exactly the same one as last season,and taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for treatment.
M25 (F) was moved into the woods last fall while the meadow was being mowed, emerged and returned to the meadow as usual including nesting in northern area with sandy soil. The sawtooth route pattern on the photo is the result of physically moving her into the woods many consecutive days while the meadow was being mowed this season, and each day having her travel back to the meadow. Update: M25 was killed during the 2017 season by a tractor mowing the meadow.
M26 (M) Found crossing the road 6/5/14, tagged and tracked 2.5 miles. He was lost several times this season when he traveled out of radio range, but finally located at his HIB site in December.
His route travels this season don't distinguish him (yet) as either a transient or a resident, but since he has now been located, he will be tracked next seaon.
M27 (M) Scroll down to see a photo of this turtle once found painted completely white with house paint . Found meeting with M19 (M), and tracked 2.1 miles. He traveled to the road's edge and spent 10 days without crossing. Yellow dot is 2012 release point. His travel route for this season is no more randon than any resident, and he hibernated within this summers activity area.
M29 (M) was found in the meadow while mating with M25. He spent almost all of the season in the meadow, except for the times he was moved into the woods while the meadow was being mowed. He traveled 1.9 miles this season and hibernated near the meadows edge.
M30 (M) Found mating with M6 under heavy raspberry brush cover shortly after her nesting. He survived the fall mowing of the meadow by only a few feet in some big rocks.
M31 (M) Unbelievably, has traveled 2.3 miles so far after being found 7/30/14 in the power line ROW on top of the ridge. He quickly crossed the deep drainage and climbed to the top of the next ridge and traveled nearly straight-line WSW. Is this another transient moving through this population? He was not observed mating or meeting, but was found late in the mid-summer season so it is not known how long he was in this local population or how many residents he met.
After traveling well outside of my normal access area, he is now carrying a contact information capsule in case he is found in the future.
UPDATE: M31 was moved back to the exact original find location on Aug 29th where he headed west on a new long straight course. His new designations are M31A (red), M31B (green), M31C (blue), M31D (aqua), and M31E. Tracking M31 has taken a lot of time and effort away from tracking resident turtles this season.
M31E hibernated in the power line ROW close to the original find site.
Route Maps 2014
Green Dot = Emergence,Red Dot = Hibernation, Blue Dot = NEW FIND
The 2014 turtle routes are posted on their proper pages along with each turtle's previous seasons route maps.
M32 a 425 male found on 9/25/14 meeting with male M12on his south facing slope, and was later found mating with M6 and meeting (mating?) with M1.
M32 (M) was found late in the season on the south facing slope meeting with M12(M) and he later mated with turtle M6. Over the past 6 seasons, I have traversed this slope many many times while tracking M1, M12, and M6 and others, and have only this season seen this turtle.
Slightly over 1500 GPS turtle locations were recorded this season. Seven new turtles click here were found and added to the turtle catalog. One or two of these are almost certainly transients, so are not really part of this local population, but all except a juvenile were tagged and tracked through the end of the season or until being lost. Six of the new turtles are males, and one is unknown gender.
Two of the new turtles were found by employees on the road, one was found by me while tracking, and the remainer were found either mating or meeting with previously tagged turtles .
Although most previously tagged turtles' behavior was expected, there were also a few surprizes this season. Turtles M14 (M) and M4 (F), (likely the oldest and youngest residents), traveled far outside any previous year's activity area, and both also found water sources and spent significant amounts of time soaking before moving on, eventually hibernating far from their previous winter sites.