Field Note: Albemarle County Record for Spotted Turtle, Clemmys guttata

Clemmys guttata (spotted turtle) VA: Albemarle County, Mill Creek / Biscuit
Run Floodplain Pools (37°59’51.02″N 
78°30’48.82″W) February 28, 2018. Devin Floyd.
Significance of Record: County
First.
On this warm late winter day I ventured into a wetland along the
Biscuit Run immediately east of the north end of Biscuit Run State Park. The
site is along a stretch of floodplain with numerous examples of seepage swamp
habitats and scattered occurrences of the state rare purple fringeless orchid. Long
and linear swales are common in the habitat type of this drainage, some being
flood scour swales, and others being remnants of agricultural trenching. Many
of these linear swales and drainage trenches now host vernal and permanent pools.
On this particular outing I was inspecting the pools along the north edge of
the wetland for Ambystoma maculatum egg
masses (of which five were located). 
While kneeling to inspect a
salamander egg mass, a spotted turtle (Clemmys
guttata)
emerged from underwater leaf litter about a foot away. I picked
the turtle up to inspect the tiny yellow spots on the carapace and the
patterning on the plastron. Characteristic black blotches marked the plastron
away from the plate sutures and midline. The carapace was 4.5 inches long. Three
photographs were taken with a Cannon Powershot SX710HS camera. These
photographs were cross-referenced with images available at the Virginia
Herpetological Society website, and other potential species matches were ruled
out easily. The range map at the same website suggests that the species might
be in Albemarle County, but no historical observation point existed. This
species report affirms its presence in Albemarle County, and provides a
connection from the Piedmont to the disjunct occurrence in Augusta County.