I didn’t meet the eight o’clock turtle until the 2014 Spring Shoot. He was probably there for years, but I never looked for him. He seems to live under the bridge at the entrance to the NMLRA grounds. I saw him first on Saturday morning at 8:00 am. (Wait, he may be a she. I don’t know, but from here on the eight o’clock turtle will be a he. )
He was sitting in the shallow water at the southeast corner of the bridge. His shell was maybe 9-10 inches front to back; pretty big for a painter. He was motionless with the top of his head just above the surface. I took his picture and went on my way; I had people to meet and figured I wouldn’t see him again. An hour later, when I went back to the camper he wasn’t there. I crossed the bridge a number of times later in the day, but he was gone.
The next day I happened by the bridge about 8:00, and there he was. He was in the same spot, motionless, with his head just breaking the surface. I began to think this was part of his routine. At 9:00 he was gone. Maybe that was part of his routine too.
I looked for him at 8:20 the next day, but he wasn’t there. He only came by at 8:00. I never saw him after that. I couldn’t seem to hit his narrow schedule. I never saw him arrive or leave. I only know that at 8:00 AM he was there.
I related the eight o’clock turtle’s story to campers near us at an evening campfire. A friend told me she saw him at 8:00 one morning too. Between us, we had three sightings, but all were at 8:00 in the morning. Where he spends the rest of the day, we don’t know.
With the spring shoot over, I won’t have a chance to check on the eight o’clock turtle for some time. However, I plan to be at the bridge on the opening day of the 2014 Fall Shoot at 8:00 AM.
(This turtle story takes me back some 30+ years when my son, Kevin, went with me to Friendship. We saved a box turtle on the Friendship Road on that trip and others on successive trips. Kevin still remembers the box turtle but couldn’t go to Friendship this year, so he missed the eight o’clock turtle.)