There are at least three snapping turtles breeding in the
reservation this year. During the week of 21 June 2002, I observed a nest with
eggs, a female looking for a place to dig a nest and a turtle in the act of
The nest I saw was on the south side of the bike path,
adjacent to the east end of the new R&D building about 1000 feet from the
“T” station. The nest had been opened – assumedly by some
predator bent on a snack of turtle eggs - and several eggs were broken. There
were still at least a dozen translucent pink eggs, the size of ping-pong balls
(about 35 mm diameter) still in the nest. I covered the nest back up and have
been observing it over the last almost two months. I spoke with a gentleman
who was walking along the path and he told me he had seen the female laying the
eggs, probably on 18 or 19 June.
On June 21, I
walked from the “T” station up to the parking lot at Hill Estates, my goal
being to walk to where Little River exits the pond. I observed an extremely
gravid female snapping turtle attempting to dig a nest in the loose soil next
to the curbstone. She had been at it a while when I saw her, and had not made
a great deal of progress. She did not seem to be disturbed by the car and
pedestrian traffic, nor by my filming her maternal progress, or lack of it. I
did not see her complete her nest nor lay eggs, but from her protruding
pregnancy she was more than ready.
bit to the west of the parking lot near where Wellington Brook enters Little
River, I saw a turtle in the act of laying eggs. She had excavated herself a
hole on the top of a pile of rubble (sand, gravel and masonry debris) and
appeared to be depositing eggs when I came upon her. I watched – and filmed
her – for about fifteen minutes and then left her to complete her deposition. I
have observed the covered nest several times since and it does not appear to
have been disturbed.
The three sites are indicated on the included map. I was
not able to get photos of the nest due to not having a camera along, but I got
some good video of the two turtles at Hill Estates.
Images © 2002, Rex Passion
Rex Passion (Richard Gantt)
95 Jackson St.
Cambridge, MA. 02140
Turtle Nesting at Alewife - with map
Jerry Shine, Wildlife Conservation Magazine
(added September 29, 2003)
1) This nest was on the bike path, on the left as you head away from the T
station, about 100 yards past the barrier of granite blocks. It was raided
by a predator and all of the eggs eaten.
2) This nest was also on the bike path, on the left as you head away from
the T station, where the train tracks first come into view, about 200 yards
from the end of the path. It was also raided and all of the eggs eaten.
Note: I saw this turtle just after it had completed the nest and it had a
gash on top of its head and was bleeding from one nostril. I didn't see how
it happened but believe it had to have been either a person or a dog.
3) This nest is at the back of the Hill Estates parking lot, adjacent to,
and just over the hill from, the bike path. The nest is in the hill itself,
about half way up. This is probably the same location and the same turtle
mentioned in the post on breeding snappers in 2002. Hatchlings have been
emerging from the nest in recent weeks.
4) This nest is just off the side of Acorn Park Road, on the right as you
head toward Route 2, approximately 15 yards before the short length of guard
rail. Hatchlings have been emerging from the nest in recent weeks. I have
counted approximately six run over by cars on the road.
5) This nest is also just off the side of Acorn Park Road, also on the right
as you head toward Route 2, in front of the guard rail. After the nest was
completed, landscapers worked on the area and covered it with several inches
of wood chips. I don't believe any hatchlings have emerged.
6) This nest is also just off the side of Acorn Park Road, on the left as
you head toward Route 2, in front of the guard rail on the left side of the
street. It is almost directly across the street from nest #5. It was also
covered with wood chips and no hatchlings seem to have emerged.
7) This nest was in the parking lot behind the Arthur Little building, in
the first island closest to the river, in the section closest to the
building. This nest was raided by a predator.