We know its Gertie by the light areas on the back edge of her shell. We've watched her lay eggs in our garden three different times and Mr. D once saw the hatchlings. It's a long slow process as she digs the hole, getting it just right, feeling with her hind legs to determine if the hole is the proper depth and size. Then in a turtle labor trance she jerks her head a few times and slowly pops a long white rubbery egg out into the hole and feels again with her hind legs that it is properly positioned before squeezing another one out.
It's hard to believe she could have more than one in her little body, they are about an inch and a half long and half an inch wide. We've gotten tired of watching as its so slow, so we aren't sure how many she actually lays. When we've witnessed the egg laying, we mark the spot so as not to disturb it until the eggs have hatched. Supposedly the incubation lasts about 3 months, so we mark the calendar, but we've only seen the babies one time.
We feel a little guilty since we put up our groundhog/rabbit fence because now Gertrude can't get into the vegetable garden to snack on some of her favorite foods. So we've been feeding her strawberries whenever we've seen her around in the last few weeks. She turned up her nose at some out of season cantaloupe that D tried to feed her from the fridge the other day. Discerning locavore that she is, she would have none of it.
The strawberries are about done so we'll have to find something else for her until the tomatoes start coming in, her other favorite food.
Isn't the skin on her neck amazing as she reaches out for another juicy bite?
Check out my May Chapel Hill News Column which sports a super photo taken by Mr. D. of a male Rose- Breasted Grosbeak at our feeder.