Local turtles find their food under water, but they like to come out and bask in the warm sun from spring to autumn.
When the water temperature drops to around 11 degrees, they go into hibernation.
They find a spot under a log, or they dig down a few centimetres under damp leaf litter or in soft ground.
They will be there now, breathing slowly and using very little energy until aroused by warmer temperatures in late winter.
Instead of eating, they use their stored body fat to keep going.
There is some danger to them during this time from predation by foxes and dogs, and also from rats.
Just as turtles cannot generate their own heat, they cannot cool themselves down in summer, apart from moving into shade or water.
A similar hibernation strategy is used by turtles when wetlands disappear in hot inland Australia.
They dig down to shelter underground until water arrives once more.
For many years, the name "tortoise" was used for most of the non-marine species.
But in relatively recent years, our tortoises have been re-classified as turtles.
Thus, our local tortoise has officially become the eastern long-necked turtle.
Officially, turtles have paddles or webbed feet, while true tortoises have stumpy unwebbed feet. Local species have webbing.
Our best-known local site is the North Gardens Wetlands, alongside Lake Wendouree.
Two species of turtles - the eastern long-necked turtle and the Macquarie or Murray River turtle - are found in summer.
Silver gulls have been frequenting city car parks in the lower part of Ballarat for many years.
They are often seen there after dark, using the streetlights to find food scraps.
A recent report mentions these birds feeding on the central grassy median strip and the roadway of Victoria Street when traffic is quiet after midnight.
They are usually there after rain, which indicates that they are probably seeking worms - which often rise to the surface at night after rain.
No moths have been noticed when the gulls are active and looking for food.
At two or three o'clock in the morning, the light is reportedly not good - even under streetlights - so the gulls must have good eyesight.
Perhaps, like magpies, they can hear the worms moving.
Their nocturnal worm feeding would provide them with a more natural diet than what they find in their car park pickings.
The worms in the grass would not normally have many predators at night, but now the night-adapted seagulls have discovered them.
NATURE QUERIES ANSWERED
We came across this little fellow at Broomfield. It was about 20/25mm from back leg tip to front leg tip.
I.& A.A., Allendale.
You've found a male red-headed mouse spider.
The glossy red head and jaw section, with huge swollen jaws, is very prominent.
The abdomen is usually bluish-black, but your specimen shows a brownish colour.
This is the time of year when males wander in search of females. They roam during the daytime.
The leg-like "pedipalps" at the front are held out front to "smell" any female that might be nearby.
The female is very different - much larger and all-black, with short stout legs.
She is rarely seen because she spends all day in her burrow, emerging to hunt at night.
- Questions and photos are welcome. Email to email@example.com, or send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353.