BLCT diamondback terrapin expert Charlotte Sornborger has been tracking the annual terrapin nesting at the Doug Rayner Wildlife Sanctuary at Nockum Hill from May through July for 23 years. About 370 females have been recorded over the years. Charlotte and a team of volunteers assist with the logging of information and protection of eggs until they hatch in August.
Here’s Charlotte’s final update from July 12:
Thank you all for your help in the nesting season; there may be a few more nesters, but I need a break before the hatching season – and imagine you do, too! I know many of you went up to the hill at times when there was nothing to record; that was an important part of the work, too, and thank you for that.
Perhaps Doug Rayner’s ashes spread around the refuge have something to do with it, but it has been a remarkable year indeed – 178 different terrapins identified, 18 of them marked for the first time; the previous record was 128, I think. As of yesterday, there still was no scavenging for the first time in 23 years!! (There could be, yet, however.) I bet it no exaggeration to say that there are 200 undisturbed nests in the sand pit!
The first eggs were put in the common excluder on May 26. Counting 70 days to hatching, we should be looking for the hatchlings by August 3rd. Jackie has made up a sign-up sheet that we will send out to you the first of August; one of us needs to check for hatchlings every day, preferably in the morning, right through September. She also has a sheet for recording how many hatchlings from which excluders; you will email in your results to me, and I will record them on a master sheet.
Enjoy your summer; we will be in touch in another 3 weeks.
It’s best to observe the nesting during high tide on sunny days. Here’s info on the Rayner Refuge.
Send photos and inquiries to tim@ecoRI.org and firstname.lastname@example.org