Turtles in Paradise

With the provincial lockdown, we have been spending all our time working from our new home at the mill. This has allowed us to discover more details of the building’s history, and being present as spring arrives also means we are getting to know much more about the flora and fauna.  

We’re realizing Stark’s Mill is in a natural paradise. Our new friend Doug McCallum, a naturalist from Kincardine , reached out and told us about the turtles that live in this area.  Doug said we should keep an eye out for turtles on the roadsides near the bridge over the river. He has saved around a dozen turtles in the past few years, helping them across the road where they were at risk of traffic. Last year he saved two snappers and two painted turtles – you can see them in these photos. Snapping turtles can live to be almost as old as people – 50 to 70 years – and have many egg-bearing years. The turtles will sometimes lay their eggs in the gravel shoulders of the road near the guardrails, and will then travel across the road towards the millpond. They also lay their eggs near the pond in the sandy riverbanks. Doug taught us how to safely shift turtles to safety by picking up the turtle in the back half of the shell while wearing gloves.

Doug McCallum helping a snapping turtle cross the highway in front of the mill last year

Doug said that if you find an injured turtle, you can put it in a plastic tote and call the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (705-741-5000). They will arrange transportation to the turtle rescue centre. Even a crushed mature turtle is worth calling them for because it may have eggs inside that can be harvested, incubated, and returned to the environment. Anyone can join in the work of the OTCC, with all different roles including being a turtle taxi to help get injured turtles to the centre in Peterborough.

As spring arrives, watch out for the turtles of Stark’s Mill pond. We’ve put up some OTCC signs near the bridge to help inform and caution drivers coming through this special natural area.  And we’ll keep an eye out for turtles nesting, as the eggs incubate for 60-90 days before hatching in September and October. We’re so thankful to share this environment with other creatures that have also enjoyed it for perhaps decades already!

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