Sunday, May 3, 2009

Turtles on Vacation--Arizona

Western Box turtle

Although we saw only one turtle on our recent trip to Sedona, the Western box pictured above at an indoor pet, we did manage to meet a turtle lover on our trip--from Switzerland. Allen and I took a jeep tour (a back country "wildlife safari") to see elk, deer, coyote, hawks.

There was only one other traveler on the trip. He introduced himself (call him “P”), told us he was from Switzerland and had just come from NYC. Hey, we're from NYC we said.

Have you heard of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge out by Kennedy Airport? P. asked. Sure, we go there all the time. P. told us he thought Jamaica Bay was a wonderful birding spot—even better than those in Europe.

We realized that we take Jamaica Bay for granted. It’s four miles from our apartment. We go there a few times a year—just to walk around smell the salt air (the refuge is close to the Atlantic) and to be outside. One or twice, years ago, we helped out on Dr. Russell Burke’s terrapin nesting research project. But we’re not birders, and we are unlikely to see terrapins unless we’re involved in the research project, so we’ve begun to take the place for granted. You never know what’s in your own backyard that you’re overlooking.

Then, when P learned we’re turtle lovers, he told us that not only does he have Greek tortoises, he just hatched a number of babies. Plus, he said he knows a turtle person in Europe who has a house for his family and a second house for his turtles. It really is a small world.

On the tour we saw a rattlesnake and elk (above).