Tag Archives: turtles

Chinese Pond Turtles (クサガメ)

Migration in November

On November 19, 2017, I was surprised to see three Chinese pond turtles (Mauremys reevesii, Reeve’s turtle, クサガメ) crawling up a nearly empty irrigation canal. The was my first time to see turtles like these with three ridges along their backs. I later learned that this small turtle is an endangered species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Japan Ministry of the Environment: 環境省レッドリスト).

The turtles were making their way upstream, probably migrating to a small pond along the canal.

Chinese pond turtles (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ) walking up the the canal in Tsuji, Ritto City.

The closest one withdrew into its shell as soon as it noticed me.

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

I backed away, but turtle was surprised by a white wagtail (Motacilla alba, ハクセキレイ).

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ) and Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ) and Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Eventually the turtle posed before returning its journey.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Sighting in January

On January 2, 2018, I spotted a Chinese pond turtle upstream in the canal near the pond, which had dried out. It was basking in the sun under a little waterfall where food was plentiful.

The turtle was covered with mud and some vegetation.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

This small turtle is not very photogenic, but the survival of Mauremys reevesii as a threatened species makes this Chinese pond turtle a beautiful creature.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Ride to Biwako after Typhoon 11 and Super Moon

Typhoon 11 of 2014 passed through western Japan on August 11. By midnight the southern sky was clear enough to see the super moon, although fast-moving clouds from the southwest often obscured the view.

Super Moon at 00:03 on August 11, 2014

Super Moon at 00:03 on August 11, 2014

The morning of August 11th was clear in the east, so I took a 36 km bike ride down along Yasugawa to Biwako and along to lake to just north of the Hino River, where I saw some windsurfers far out on the lake between Omihachiman and Oki Island. A strong wind continued to blow from the southwest. The ride home against the wind was exhausting, and heavy clouds came up from the southwest. I didn’t even think of taking more photos on the way home.

On the way to Biwako I saw two turtles. The first one was a Japanese pond turtle with a diameter about the size of my head. These turtles are very common here along rivers and lakes. The second one, about the size of my hand, was a more colorful species I hadn’t seen before. After searching The Reptile Database and studying photos on the Web, I think that turtle a red-eared slider (trachemys scripta elegans), a non-native species. (If you can confirm or correct the identification, please let me know!) Both turtles had just crossed the embankment road and were moving away from Yasugawa, down toward the canal at the base of the embankment.