Friday, June 25, 2010

The Beatrice Chronicles

So it's been a while since I've posted. I've been pretty busy at work and in real life, but work has been exhausting. I had six transects for breeding bird surveys at work, which means there were six times when I had to get up at 4am in order to get to one of the park reserves (40 minute drive) in time to start my survey half an hour before sunrise. And in late spring, the sun sure does come up early.

In addition to bird surveys, I was put in charge of heading up the Blanding's Turtle patrol at the previously mentioned park reserve. For those of you who don't know, Blanding's Turtles are threatened in the state of Minnesota (threatened in several of the states in which they are found actually). They are also super cute.

So it's Blanding's turtle nesting season, and as it turns out Blanding's turtles typically start nesting activities in the evening. And Blanding's turtle nesting season overlaps with breeding bird survey season. So yes, it's been busy at work.

Well, one of the perks about Blanding's Turtle duties is that if you find a new unmarked turtle, you get to name it. And since it's my third season at the park AND I'm in charge of M-H turtles, then by golly it's about time I get to name a turtle!

Anyhoo, a big group of us decided we should have a big group effort to find some turtles one evening. There was me, Angela co-worker, Bob co-worker, Stephanie volunteer, and Stephanie's friend all out to find turtles. Stephanie drives up a few minutes late and lo and behold she has a turtle in her lap! An unmarked turtle! Finding unmarked an unmarked turtle is always a nice find since it doesn't happen too often these days.
So the turtle is found and everyone is excited. Several hours pass and lots of things happen, which will only lead to side stories and off-topic tangents.

So the turtle goes back to the office and Madeline, who is the resident turtle expert, has two turtles and one radio transmitter. The decision was between putting the radio on the turtle Stephanie found (which was out of the park along a fairly busy road) and the turtle who had nested within park boundaries (presumably so we could concentrate efforts in the following years to protect her nests). All signs pointed to putting the radio on the turtle who nested in the park.

So I get to work the next day and at the morning meeting BossMan says, "Well, Jenn. It's your responsibility to track this turtle once or twice a day for the next couple of weeks to find out where she goes."

OK. That sounds like a fun and interesting task.
Oh. And Madeline had also decided that even though Stephanie found the turtle, that I could name her. After all, Stephanie had already named a turtle some years before. I agreed, because if I'm supposed to spend all this time tracking this turtle, then this turtle is mine, and I get to name her. And she was dubbed "Beatrice."

So Friday morning I dropped the turtle off at Southwest marsh in the park reserve. Friday evening she was found at the other end of the marsh.
Saturday night co-worker Nate helped out and found her in the Credit River, and he actually saw her as she swam out of the park boundary.
Sunday evening I found her on land by the Credit river, but only about 8 feet from the side of the busy road where she was first found. I got worried about her and brought her back to the park where she would be safe. But then I talked to Madeline; she reminisced about Orchard Lake Turtle who was moved within park boundaries two or three times in a previous year only to be found in the same yard of a neighborhood near Orchard Lake. Then she told me to put the turtle where I had found her.... near the road.

Monday evening when it was time to locate this turtle once again, I searched her last known location, then assuming she would continue following the Credit River I tried to find her signal around various cul de sacs in the area that all pointed toward the Credit River. After about two hours and many miles of driving around pretty much in circles, there was still no signal.
Tuesday I was pissed off and needed a break from Beatrice.
Wednesday I had convinced BossMan to let me search for the turtle during daylight hours instead of having to pull over on the side of the road during rush hour traffic time. I went even farther south to even more cul de sacs all pointed near the Credit River. Still no signal. I was very frustrated. I threatened to un-name Beatrice.
Thursday at the park reserve, one of my co-workers said he saw a picture of Beatrice at the grocery store on a carton of milk. I didn't try to find her, but did mention the fact that "Trixie" is a decent nick name for Beatrice.
Friday I had the day off work, but technically was still an hour and a half short for the week, so I decided to meet Caleb for lunch and have one more look for this darn turtle. I thought to myself, "Self, even though you've already checked there, I think you should go to Cleary Lake. Just to see. I've got a feeling."
So I did. And as I was walking to the picnic area close to the lake I was imagining how funny it would be if I actually cut out a picture of Beatrice and clued it to a milk carton.
But there she was.
Stupid turtle. All that searching I did, and somehow she just ends up at Cleary. What a jerk.
But I like her again.