I’m taking photographs in Daisy Nook Country Park, near my old haunts as a child, when a woman walking a dog asks me if I’ve seen the terrapin? I haven’t and she gives me clear directions. I love how generous people are with their time when they’ve got something they know you’ll want to know. She did everything apart from march me there herself. Brilliant.
There it it. I know it’s not a Red Eared Slider, because, well, you know why. It’s sunning itself on a log in the canal as if there’s nothing in the world more important. I begin to think that I could learn a life lesson or two from it. I take more photographs of it than are strictly necessary as I lie on the bank. There are very few things you can do to make a static object look more appealing. What it really needs is some action. I wander off down the canal.
As I wander back I see it’s still there. Amusingly, there’s a Moorhen, which is nesting nearby, pecking vigorously at it. It clearly sees it as a threat. The scene is brilliant. The lighting is lovely, the red and yellow beak of the Moorhen contrasts beautifully with the blue-grey of the Slider, and the interaction between the two of them turns the whole scene into a verb rather than a noun. As I slide into position on the canal bank, the Moorhens skulks away and the Slider does what sliders do; it slides into the water with a contemptuous ‘plop’ and disappears.
I’m left looking at a bare log. I’m not sure my description makes up for the lack of a photograph, although maybe I’ve managed to conjure the scene up in your mind.
I post the photograph of it on a Daisy Nook Facebook Group hoping they’ll help me identify the species. I’m overwhelmed by people helping me identifying it. I love people being generous, kind and interested. It’s a Yellow Bellied Slider and a victim of the pet trade, as is all the British wildlife it has eaten in this country park.