After 2 weeks, I’m learning that fieldwork is all about small victories. Wading through the marsh without tripping, successfully drawing blood on the first try, winning an arm wrestle with a turtle in order to perform an oral swab, each small feat is worth celebrating.

Dylan wrestling with the Kane Co. Blandings


On Wednesday Dr Katylin and Kami from Cook county joined us. We decided to divide and conquer, with Maura and Kami looking for head starts at Pingree Grove while Dr. Katylin and I checked traps at Freeman forest preserve.

Kami trying to get service to call Dr. Kaitlyn.


We didn’t have much luck with the traps so we started tracking a known blandings turtle with radio telemetry. As we stepped off into the cattails, Bill assured us that our target was close at hand, judging by the strength of the signal. Every few meters we expected to be close enough to find it, but no, just a little bit further. We joked that the turtle was simply outmaneuvering us, but after battling through the deepening muck for what seemed like an eternity we found ourselves at the other end of the marsh, and yet still the signal beckoned us further, up on to dry land. We found the hollowed shell of our quarry up a hill, the elevation allowing the beacon to transmit it’s signal unimpeded by water or vegetation, explaining the deceptively strong signal. The discovery was a somber end to the adventure, but Bill lightened the mood, telling us about how the departed turtle had made a habit of escaping the boundary of the preserve to nest in the flower garden of a neighboring residence. The next turtle we tracked down was nearby, but even once we thought we were pretty close, it still took a lot of searching in the mud before we plucked out a (thankfully living) turtle. Like I said, small victories make a big difference.

-Dylan Burke