It’s a little-known fact—even by Americans themselves—that the U.S. is far and away the turtle capitol of the world. We have over 57 species of tortoise and freshwater turtles, more than any other country. These are concentrated to the east of the Mississippi, where come the beginning of May the ponds start getting awfully, truly, spectacularly, turtly.
One such turtle-filled body of water is Becks Pond in Newark, Delaware, which is a literal ten-minute drive from my house. Given that New Castle County is so built up, one might surmise that the pond couldn’t go on for very long or be all that wild. But, like so much in life, there’s more to Becks Pond than you’d assume at first glance.
It’s not a natural body of water, having been formed by damming a small tributary of the Christina River called Belltown Run. It’s primarily known as one of Delaware’s easiest fishing spots. Really, from Salem Church Road the pond looks nice, but not overwhelmingly scenic. However, there’s a boat ramp, and if you take a kayak or a canoe a few minutes upstream you round a bend and come to a much prettier stretch of the pond full of water lilies and bordered by dense woodland. Upstream a little further, and the pond is obstructed by a huge beaver dam which, judging by its size, must have been a going concern for quite some time.
It’s not possible to paddle all that far in Becks Pond (though without the beaver dam you might be able to get up significantly further). And yet, what the pond lacks in size it makes up for in wildlife. I’ve seen four species of turtles there, including painted turtles, red bellied cooters, non-native red eared sliders, and musk turtles (I also assume, though I’ve not clapped eyes on them, that there are common snapping turtles, and probably spotted turtles, though those guys are fairly hard to spot). I’ve also seen plenty of bird life there, including bald eagles and great blue herons, all in the space of a half hour’s kayak.
Not bad for boring old Northern Delaware.
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