Thursday, August 20, 2009

Box Turtles, Boundary Markers, and Rock Piles in the Blueberries.

I spent a number of days this vacation in Falmouth MA wading through dense blueberries and bull-brier, hoping to see rock piles. I came across box turtles instead and saw a few stones sticking up above the bushes. Then finally I did locate one new minor rock pile site along Thomas Landers Rd.

Here is an old box turtle:It is interesting that the plates of the shell are not symmetric or polyhedral (compare to the younger box turtle I saw a couple days later, shown below). Is this turtle right handed?

Walking through the bushes, seeing a likely spot for rock piles I was saying, after a number of days of disappointing exploration, "come on, give me a rock pile please!", and a few moments later I saw this:Here is a closeup:
Can you see why, looking for a couple of these in hundreds of acres of woods, is a daunting task? But finding one, leads to exploring more carefully nearby. I circled outward and about 15 yards away, found a second one:The view is towards the hollow in the direction of the first pile. Most of the sites in Falmouth are like this, associated with kettle holes but usually deeper ones than this. It is a pleasant aesthetic but I cannot tell you much about this site except it is like others in the area. The southern sides of kettle holes seem to be preferred locations.

Here is a nearby boundary marker:It would have been nice to see this scene 150 years ago when this was open sheep pasture and everything was visible.

Continuing the next day, back in the blueberries. Here is a much younger box turtle:
I never realized how much the plates deform during the life of the animal. Technically box turtles are tortoises because their lower shell is hinged and these are terrestrial reptiles that live in the woods, not in the water. Anyone know their typical life span? Maybe that older turtle was older than me?

Another boundary stone:
As I was saying, there is not that much to say about two rock-on-rock piles in the middle of the Falmouth woods. But the site is typical in a way and worth documenting. Someday perhaps we can see it with more knowing eyes.


pwax said...

From Wikipedia:

The average life span of box turtles is 40 years. However, it is possible for a box turtle to live for over 100 years.

I'll bet that old yellow one is older than me. Probably smarter too.

Norman said...

I'm curious about your term "boundary stone." There are a number of similar looking stones in Foxboro State Forest, and quite close to one another. I've called them "standing stones," for lack of a better word. Are you sure the stones you point out in your blog entry are in fact boundary markers?

pwax said...

I am not certain but it seems reasonable, especially given the multiple strips of surveyors' tape on the second example. Also these items frequently have a "fresher" look than nearby rock piles.

That said, I cannot think of any obvious way to know these might not be standing stones that do not mark boundaries.

Mark said...

Great that you're finding box turtles in Massachusetts, especially a younger one, as they're an endangered species in your state. They probably should be in others as well.

Here's a good introduction to box turtles and the problems they face: