A quick stop by the neighborhood turtle pond this past weekend revealed a plethora of activity. This spot is actually just a wide spot in Carrollton’s Dudley Branch. A bridge passes over the small creek here, allowing for a bird’s eye view of the going-ons in the clear, shallow water below.
I stop by for a look-see whenever my morning dog walk route takes me by the bridge. On recent visits I quickly noticed something a little unusual. The normally wary and shy Red-eared Slider Turtles that lived here were not so wary and shy anymore.
As I stood next to the bridge railing the resident Red-eared Sliders started popping up to the surface and swimming my way from nearly every corner of the open water. Soon these turtles were joined by a couple of Common Snapping Turtles and the occasional Spiny Softshell. Bold Green Sunfish appeared, darting through the water just below my reflection; as did a half dozen or so surprisingly large (16 inches) Black Bullhead Catfish.
The turtles all gathered around just below the bridge, treading water and looking up with comical anticipation. The reason? Evidently, some of the folks in the neighborhood have discovered the fun of feeding the turtles and fish from the bridge railing. The grand aquatic menagerie has now come to expect food from anyone who happens to stop by!
And while, I certainly don’t condone feeding wildlife in this manner—habituating wildlife in this way is seldom a good idea, and some food items can even be harmful. In this case, it has certainly created an interesting wildlife viewing opportunity.