A Blanding’s Turtle on the Banks of the Mighty Muddy Credit River

I like to explore different parts of the Credit River watershed, particularly in Mississauga. The river and its banks are home to many reptiles including Midland Painted and Snapping turtles. The most common frogs I see in the lower part of the watershed are Green Frogs basking on the banks. I tend to approach the water, when possible, quietly and slowly so as not to startle the frogs. I enjoy better views of them, and better photos, if they stay sunbathing; It’s also healthier for them to soak up rays undisturbed as they need to raise their internal temperature to best digest and grow.

On one sunny summer morning when I edged close to the river past a thicket of milkweed, Joe Pye Weed and slender cattails, I was astonished to see something quite different basking on the bank of a small island just across from where I stood.

What Ontario Turtle Has a Shiny Bright Yellow Throat and a Dotted Dark Shell?

If you see a Blanding’s Turtle craning its neck to get a better look at you, it’s unmistakable what type it is. These turtles have a vivid yellow throat, not just small yellow marks on a dark throat.

Photo of Blandings Turtle Yellow Throat on NaturalCrooksDotCom

The underside has large dark blotches. If you pick one up to help it across a road or highway, you may get a look at them.

Photo of Blandings Turtle B 2011 08 14 near Sharbot Lake Ontario on NaturalCrooksDotCom
This photo taken by a relative is of a Blanding’s Turtle that was crossing a road near Sharbot Lake a few years ago.

Without seeing the throat or the underside, it may be harder to be sure you are looking at a Blanding’s. They have dots on their backs but those can be obscured by algae and muck. The shape of the shell is useful but that may not be easy to notice if no other turtles are nearby for comparison.

Photo of Blandings Turtle Obscure Underwater on NaturalCrooksDotCom
This is a Blanding’s but it may not be easy to tell.

Are Blanding’s Turtles Endangered in Ontario?

Not officially. Right now they are listed as “Threatened.” Certainly they are not common and not thriving. The only turtle which is doing well right now in Ontario is the Midland Painted. All the others are at varying degrees of risk, from “Of Special Concern” to Endangered.

Where Should I Report a Blanding’s Turtle If I See One?

I participate in Turtle Tally, a program where everyday nature watchers can report what types of turtles they see, when and where. This type of data helps scientists and researchers know where to start looking for a certain species, and may point out new locations for Endangered species such as Wood Turtles.  I encourage you to submit your own sightings. It’s free and easy and you may even get some interesting information in the mail if you check the box that you are interested.

What Was This Blanding’s Turtle Doing in the Credit River?

Photo of Blandings Turtle Getting Wet A on NaturalCrooksDotCom

I actually got to watch this turtle for quite some time. I was blocking the access to the river from the path I had started down, so no dogs came racing down to gulp a drink and splash after the frogs. So the turtle continued to sun bathe for a few minutes. Then it stepped down towards the water, as tentatively as I get into a cold lake in July, and then submerged.

Photo of Blandings Turtle Getting Wet B on NaturalCrooksDotCom
How cold is it?

Photo of Blandings Turtle Getting Wet C on NaturalCrooksDotCom
Eek! Very cold!

Photo of Blandings Turtle Getting Wet D on NaturalCrooksDotCom
Coming up for a breath of air.

I watched as it moved along the sheltered stretch of water. It paced along the bottom, rising up to breathe once for about every meter of progress. When it eventually disappeared from view towards the main channel, I left my watch post and continued on my ramble.

Photo of Blandings Turtle through grass B on NaturalCrooksDotCom
No one said turtle watching through thick ground cover was easy.

About a half hour later, I passed the same spot. To my surprise, the turtle was back out sunbathing again! I shared the view with another nature enthusiast, then we both left to let this Blanding’s Turtle live in peace. I haven’t seen it again since, but I hope that it’s still out in the river, exploring another section and making the day for another turtle watcher!

Photo of Blandings Turtle through grass A on NaturalCrooksDotCom
Who is watching whom?

Related Reading

Join In
Have you seen any turtles in the Credit River or perhaps closer to your home turf? Please share your experience with a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *