Western Pond Turtle Nesting Workshop 2024

Western Pond Turtle Nesting Workshop 2024

Western Pond Turtle Nesting Workshop 2024

On Saturday, June 22, 2024, around three o'clock in the afternoon, I had the privilege of participating in the Pond Turtle Nesting in California Field Workshop 2024 at Moorhen Marsh, situated within the Mt View Sanitary District’s water treatment facility in Martinez, California. Under the expert guidance of Jeff Alvarez and the Wildlife Project, the workshop focused on the intricate breeding behaviors of pond turtles endemic to central California. Despite its proximity to industrial sites like a Shell refinery, Moorhen Marsh proved to be a sanctuary for diverse wildlife, including notable species such as the salt marsh harvest mouse, California black rail, Ridgway rail, and both the northwestern and southwestern pond turtle.

Moorhen Marsh's habitat, characterized by six ponds intersected by Peyton Slough, has been carefully enhanced to cater to the ecological needs of its inhabitants. This includes provisions like basking logs for Western pond turtles and nesting boxes for tree swallows, strategically placed to protect nests and fledglings. The thoughtful design of these enhancements underscores a commitment to preserving and nurturing local biodiversity.

The workshop seamlessly blended classroom learning with hands-on field activities. Prior to our field day, we engaged in an informative online lecture on June 14th, which equipped us with essential knowledge on pond turtle nesting behaviors and identification techniques. Applying this newfound understanding in the field was both rewarding and enlightening, as we observed firsthand the diverse habitats critical to the survival of pond turtles.

Personally, I found the experience immensely enriching, particularly due to the unexpected biodiversity thriving in Moorhen Marsh. Guided by Jeff Alvarez, our team successfully trapped and studied 15 western pond turtles, learning essential skills such as measuring their midline carapace length and proper handling techniques. Beyond technical skills, the workshop provided valuable insights into habitat management strategies that support pond turtle nesting behaviors. This holistic approach, combining theoretical knowledge with practical application, made for a comprehensive exploration of these fascinating creatures and their complex nesting habits.


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