Yellow Bellied Slider

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.

Yellow-Bellied Slider - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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.

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