My photo journey and tips to respect the cuteness.

Turtles are adorable. You know this, and I know this. Luckily for us the Thames River is host to many of these amazing little creatures.

Cuteness is multiplying on the Thames, as the rivers’ turtles, like the Midland Painted Turtle, are currently undergoing their annual nesting.

On June 1, 2018 the Upper Thames Conservation Authority (UCTA) announced that once again, nesting season for the turtles of the Thames has begun.

As sightings of turtles increases along the river, UCTA released some tips to Londoners about respecting the process:

  • Be mindful of turtles in yards, driveways, sidewalks, and roads. That means being careful when mowing the lawn, backing out your car, and generally being cautious when you step.
  • If you see a turtle on the road or a sidewalk, help it cross by picking it up with your hands away from its head, carry it low to the ground in case it falls, and place it in the nearest wetland.
  • If you find a turtle nesting on your property, do not try and move her. Eggs can take 50-90 days to hatch, and for some species, the mother stays in the nest until the following spring. Plus, would you like to be prodded by a giant human hand when you’re forging life?

Of course, when I heard about these great little folks running around I decided to do my own walk down our beautiful river Thames to try and spot some of their happenings.

Keyword is try here folks – turns out turtles are fairly elusive little critters.

Midland Turtle. Photo by Jen Hillhouse.

Yes, that beige spot in the middle of the pond is a turtle. If you squint you can even see its leg – added benefit of this photo is that it replaces your bi-annual eye test.

This little majestic sunbather is a Midland Painted turtle, the Thames’ most common species. Fun fact about the Midlands is that their bodies contain a natural “anti-freeze” which lets them survive in temperatures as low as -9ºC.

Not only are they less susceptible to cold like tiny Elsas, they can live up to 40-50 years in the wild.

Female Midland Painted turtles are extremely susceptible to roadside injury and mortality, as they often use the soft shoulders of roads as nest sites.

So in case you’re parking, or thinking of driving bizarrely close to the shoulder, which I hope for your car’s suspension sake you’re not doing, just keep an eye out for those nesting ladies.

That concludes my turtle sightings, but that’s probably for the best since they’re busy nesting and starting cute little shelled families.

Below are some photos of other awesome residents of the Thames. Remember, when you’re in the great outdoors tread lightly, and be respectful to those who call it home!

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