Friday, May 11, 2012

landscaping, turtle eggs and the Virginia Living Museum

The Virginia Living Museum is in Newport News Virginia and we've been members for years.  I love the museum, fish tanks, nature trails, and butterfly rooms are my kids' favorites.  I often go and promise myself that one day all the little people will be in school and I can come sit and sketch... and the oldest has even gone on a week long camp with the museum during summer.

But this past few weeks we've had the pleasure of seeing yet another side of the museum.  We have had some yard work done- involving grading a fairly large section of our backyard that backs up to watershed that is protected by the EPA.  (No worries, all the yard work was approved by the county prior to any activity and yes, the papers are all on file.  So all you watch dogs, go ahead and call and they'll tell you, we are legal.)  We are putting in ground cover and so on for erosion control and I thought it would be a good idea to use native VA plants instead of accidentally putting in something that was aggressive and threw off the all that nature.  So I called the Virginia Living Museum and was put in contact with the horticulture curator Bruce Peachy.  Mr. Peachy has been extremely kind and generous with his time, we've had several phone conversations and he helped me pick out plants and even offered to help me purchase some.  We are using winecups and virginia columbine.

In the meantime:

My yard's been looking a bit like this:

backyard choas

and we've been having visitors:

Snapping Turtle


 This Snapper found our fill dirt and decided to lay eggs! So I called the Virginia Living Museum again and spoke to someone in the Herpetology department. He said there is a brief, 24-48 hour period, during which you can move turtle eggs without damage to the eggs. So K, my 14 yr old, gently moved them all to a new nest. You need to replicate the original as much as possible, so she moved some clay and attempted to keep them at a similar depth. And then the raccoons found them.

And the next day we saw another turtle (or maybe the same one? I am not sure.) on another pile of dirt.  This time the top soil.


She's harder to see, I was on the deck.
And so K moved these eggs as well.  Over 40 of them!



This time we tried to keep the raccoons out.  The Virginia Living Museum's Herpetologist said that if the openings were over 1 inch by 1 inch the baby turtles could crawl through.

Online it says we have 60-90 days to wait for baby turtles.  It has been two, so far the raccoons have been foiled.  They are smart little buggers though.

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