Regardless of the calandar date, summer finally arrived when 2 weeks straight, temperatures were at record highs, followed by 2 weeks of almost continuous pounding rain storms and showers.
Turtle emergence dates this season were typical, but road crossings by females for nesting was 2 to 3 weeks earlier than ever observed before.
The summer weather was unusual, with precipitation and temperatures well above normal: when it was not raining, heat waves were being recorded. The month of May was the warmest and wettest on record.
Turtle M46 (male) was re-found on 5/25/18 meeting with M3 (male) in the ROW meeting area. M46 was originally found in October 2016 when meeting with turtle M10 (male) in exactly the same location, but was soon lost. He may have quickly traveled to the sheltered cove as he did this season.
Turtle M40 (female) was originally found near the cabin on 6/13/16, and was lost after a long 0.8 mile trip across the ridge and down the drainage and out of radio range. On 6/13/18 turtle M40 was found back near the cabin at the same location where she was found 2 years earlier. She was tracked as she traveled back over the ridge and eventually traveled in a large, wide 1.4 mile loop returning to the sheltered cove where she traveled to in 2016.
Turtle M50(male), was found crossing the road August 4th, 2017, and after being radio-tagged, spent the rest of that season in the meadow. He crossed the road again at the end of the season and hibernated nearby. This season M50 was tracked 1.8 GPS miles.
Green Dot = Emergence, Red Dot = Hibernation, Blue Dot = NEW FIND, White Dot = Dead
Turtle M49 (female) was re-found by the land owners on 7/14/18 in the new man-made meeting area, an open grassy space near the cabin, during mowing. Unharmed, she was radio tagged and released where she mated with M51. She had been lost July 2017 about 1/2 mile away, but must have remained in the area, hibernated, and crossed at least 2 roads before being found again this season.
M49 was tracked 1.4 GPS miles in 4 months this season, and hibernated on the ridge top
Turtle M4(female) was taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on 8/19/18 after being found appearently ill, and was diagnosed with mycoplasma and occular infection, and surgery preformed to remove large amounts of infection. After several weeks of antibiotics and recovery, she was returned to her primary activity area 9/29/18. M4 was one of many turtles who visited the new man-made Cabin Meeting Area where she was found mating, and then returning to her activity area for the remander of the season, and hibernation.
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Turtle M8(male) made a long and unexpected move this season, far outside his normal activity area of the past 10 years. There is no definite explanation, but M9, the female that was M8's primary mate, was killed during the 2016 season.
M8's travel behavior changed somewhat in 2017 when he spent part of the season on the nearby south facing slope where he mated with turtle M43, and hibernated. This 2018 season he mated with M43 early in the season, and then traveled cross country to an area he was never observed to visit before, and after spending time there, traveled back to the same south slope and was again seen mating with M43.
Turtle M10(male) was taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on 9/8/18 after being found ill, and was diagnosed with mycoplasma. M10 is a primary mate of M4, and there is overlap of their primary activity areas, where they are observed mating at least once every season.
Mark/recapture numbers for this season were 7 new turtles, ( 21 matings) refinds and one death.
Turtle M19(male) was killed as he attempted to cross the road in the early morning of 9/12/18. M19 was tracked about 24 miles continuously since 2011 when he was found meeting with turtle M15 (male), and was one of the longest distance travelers in this population, and hibernated in exactly the same stump hole every fall. He was never before observed attempting a road crossing.
At least 7 study turtles (3 females and 4 males) made successful road crossings and one study turtle (M19,male) was killed by a vehicle.
Turtle M13(male) spent most of this second consecutive season on top of a high, narrow ridge, walking down to within a few feet of the road at least twice twice, but did not cross, but instead returned to the top of the ridge.
Turtle M51(male) was found 8/8/17 and thought to be a possible transient, but he remained in the hollow where he was originally found, and after emergence spring 2018, has traveled a considerable distance, including utilizing the new man-made meeting area near the cabin.
The most amazing thing about M51 is that if indeed he has been a resident here for at least the last several years, he was not found before last fall. The power line ROW that he seems to prefer has been traveled by me at least 100 times over the past seasons, but M51 was never seen. M51 was tracked 3.0 GPS miles this season.
Turtle M54(M), found 10/8/17 in the meadow meeting with M50, he crossed the road to hibernate, but crossed back in the spring of 2018 to spend the majority of this season in the wooded areas in the meadow. After crossing the road once again, he was eventually tracked to the sheltered cove shared by several other study turtles. His hibernation location was not located until mid-January. M54 was tracked 2.3 GPS miles this season.
Turtle M52(male), found last season on the far side of the south slope with M42, this season he made an unbelievable 2.7 mile trip crossing the road into the meadow, and across the very top of a 3464 ft. ridgetop, down the other side to a busy highway. He did not cross the road, but instead reversed course and crossed back across the ridgetop, and crossed the road and traveled back to his primary activity area, a well sheltered cove and drainage he shares with several other tracked turtles.
Turtle M24(female) was followed from emergence this season after being lost part of the 2017 season. She again nested in the meadow and was helped across the road when found by a maintenance worker.
Turtle M27(male) was tracked all season on a slope and ridge that he shared with several other study turtles, some previously tracked and some newly found this season, including at least 3 females
Turtle M29(male) traveled 2.3 GPS miles this season. He is generally considered a meadow resident, but also traveled more inside the woods and on the upper slope than previous seasons.
Turtle M41(female) is a small female who resides on north slope only occassionally traveling downslope as far as the creek in the drainage, but this season was tracked climbing up-slope and crossing the ridge-top to a location very close to the new Cabin Meeting Area. She returned to her primary activity area, and mated with M15 at least twice.
Turtle M43(female) stayed in or near her primary activity area for the majority of the summer, but near the end of July, made an unexpectedly long trip across the top of a high ridge to the hollow where she shared with a number of residents, and stayed until hibernation. M43 was tracked 1.9 GPS miles this season.
Turtle M53(female), found 9/7/17 on top of a high ridge, and after hibernation, stayed on the same ridge the entire 2018 season traveling 1.7 GPS miles.
Turtle M18(male) was re-found 10/1/18 at the edge of the meadow after being lost 11 months ago, at the end of last season at hibernation. M18 had an iButton attached and recorded temperatures indicate that he moved to a second, more shallow, colder site for the winter. I searched for M18 many times during the winter, spring and summer but re-found him by accident while tracking M29.
Turtle M61(M), was found 10/7/18 meeting with M18(M) in the woods near the meadow edge. An active, and relatively small adult with a substancial amount of carapace and platron damage he appears to be of old age. If M61 is a meadow resident, the damage may be from being hit by a mower blade at some time. M61 was tracked climbing to the very top of the ridge, but was lost for the remainder of the season.
Turtle M62(M), was found 10/7/18 a short time and a short distance from M61 and M18, alone at the meadows edge, at M18's old hibernation site. He stayed close by for the remainder of the season and hibernated at the edge of the meadow only a few feet from another of M18's previous hibernation sites.
Turtle M60(M) was found 10/5/18 running across a dirt road in front of my vehicle as I was returning from tracking M27, M50, M56 and M57 on top of a ridge. There were only a handful of GPS locations recorded before he hibernated, so it is not yet known if he is a resident ot transient.
Turtle M59(m) was found 9/26/18 meeting with turtle M29(m) in the meadow. He stayed close to the meadow's edge until he hibernated a short distance in the woods.
Turtle M58(m) was found 9/2/18
Turtle M57(f) was found 8/10/18 alone in the power line ROW on top of the ridge. She was the only new female found this season and stayed very close to where she was found for the remainder of the season, and hibernated at the edge of the ROW.
Turtle M56(m) was found 8/7/18 alone and upside down in a shallow depression only about 15 feet from turtle M27(m) on top of the ridge in a clear space in the woods. M56 wa radio tagged and tracked for a short while, but was lost either due to transmitter failure or long distance movement.
Turtle M11(female) traveled over a considerable area as she has done in previous seasons, and spent much of her season in a very small area of meadow, also as usual. She hibernated in the same location, beside the roadway, as she almost always has done.
Turtle M1(female) is the longest studied turtle of this population, tracked continuously for 11 years. This seasons travels were consistant with previous seasons, climbing to the ridge top and crossing the road into the meadow to nest, then returning to the south slope. M1 traveled 1.7 GPS miles this season.
Turtle M3(male) also had a season very consistant with all previous tracked seasons, traveling a steep dog-leg power line ROW and the adjacent woods. M3 appearently has an ability for finding other resident turtles for meeting and mating. He was tracked less intensively this season due to the unusually hot and wet summer and his difficult to access activity area.
Turtle M12(male) is a south slope resident, but at least once per season, travels across the drainage to the north facing slope and climbs nearly to the ridge-top before returning to the south slope. This season, he spent more time on the north slope than usual, and likely mated with M41.
Turtle M15(male) spent more of this season on the north side of the ridge, than previous years. He also spent a considerable amount of time within the new Cabin Meeting Area, meeting and mating with other resident turtles.
Trtle M21(male) was tracked from emergence, but not tracked often due to the roughness of the area, and was lost either due to transmitter failure or travels out of radio range.
Turtle M30(male) This meadow resident has been tracked continuiously since he was found mating with turtle M6(female) in 2014, but was lost this season in the middle of July. All searches failed to find him anywhere in the meadow or woods, so possibly he crossed the busy highway and was either picked up or he continued into the adjacent drainage.
Turtle M32(male) is a south slope resident who stays on the slope and occasionally on the ridgetop for the entire season. He travels an unusual diagonal route, and has a fairly compact primary activity area.
Turtle M38(female) is a hollow resident who only occassionally crosses over the ridgetop onto the north slope. Her travels sppear to center around the lower loop of the Cabin Meeting Area, and this season spent more time in the north loop than in previous seasons.
Turtle M48 (male) is evidently one of the ridge residents, but will occassionally travel long distances off the ridge and this season even traveled to the road, crossed, and re-crossed several days later and continued his travels on the ridge.