Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 15 to 20, 2009

April 15 I headed off in the morning to check the otter latrines along the north shore of South Bay and to take a look at the other beaver ponds to try to gauge the pace of beaver activity. I flushed two or three deer along Antler Trail, a bit surprised that the deer seem so skittish when there are things popping up everywhere that they could concentrate on eating. There were no sure signs of otter activity at the little causeway latrine at the end of the south cove of South Bay but it did look like something had scratched over it. However, I think turkeys might have been through because in the wet grass on the trail where the creek coming down to the north cove floods, there were obvious
scratchings about and even mounds of leaves that I would attribute to a marking otters but I didn't see any otter scats, ergo turkeys did it, or deer. I didn't check the willow lodge latrine out on the peninsula thinking that would make a nice
excursion in itself when I didn't have time for a long hike. There were no signs of otters at the old dock latrine and no suggestion of scratching. Perhaps the latrine on the knoll under the oak is bearing the burden of the otters' visits. I should
probably make it a habit to always check that latrine. A week or so ago, I made the sage observation that porcupines will not climb out into the willow overhanging the bay until the leaves begin to come out. As I walked past one willow I heard a screech
and there was a porcupine climbing out on a leafless willow. The pileated woodpecker that is often here greeted me from a far, and another pileated farther away chortled back. I think pileated woodpeckers have the most fun in these woods. Approaching the
docking rock latrine, half way up the north shore of the bay, I saw that patterned leaf scratching that I always pin on otters,

and sure enough well up on the ledge of the shore there was a new otter scat.

However, I could only fine one even though it looked like much of the surrounding litter had been rearranged. There were mud marks on the big rock by the water, but not too substantial though I think a beaver made them. A beaver continues to trim back the cut ash at the big rock where the creek from Audubon Pond runs into the bay. But I think there is less activity here now, at least there were no stripped sticks littered about. Perhaps waves washed them away. The water level
is rising and the west wind has not quit.

There was a rush of water down the creek, so I assumed that the park maintenance staff had opened the drain up at the pond. Before checking that I nosed over the grass of the latrine above the entrance to South Bay

and I saw some fresh scats, however, no scent mounds. There was a greenish brown blob near the typical scaly black otter scat. I assume the blob came out of the otter too.

There were also two smears of scats down on the rock above the water. Last spring otters fashioned a scent mound down there. I soon saw I was wrong about Audubon Pond. There was still water in the spillover canal. So I walked back so I could get up on the ridge that surrounds the pond, since the bridge over the canal was probably still flooded. I was amazed to discover that the beavers had built a big leafy dam at the end of the spillway to keep water from draining out there. I actually thought the beavers might prefer the water to be a little lower.
No. They want every precious drop of it.

And I soon saw why. They cut down a couple of trees on the steep bank formed by the spillway. And they adjusted their bank lodge to accommodate the high water lever, piling more sticks and leaves on top.

they now have convenient bays lapping right up to choice trees to cut down or girdle,

They are especially working in the bay that flooded over their north canal. I saw at least two trees down, ashes, and work on several more.

Since the causeway forming the east shore of the pond is flooded over, I took the Shortcut Trail back to the South Bay trail, a shorter route anyway. Then I walked up the south shores of Beaver Point and Otter Hole ponds. I think one
can gauge how long beavers had used what is now a meadow by the extent of water that ponds in it after heavy rains. The longer beavers are in a pond, the more they dredge, so the more likely water will remain after they leave and the dam decays. All to say there was a little pool at Beaver Point Pond, and two grand ones at Otter Hole Pond. I should spend a bit of time getting photos and estimating measurements of time and space to illustrate this. Otter Hole Pond had enough water to host a good number of ducks, mallards mostly and a pair of wood ducks. The Second Swamp Pond
is filled with water. I scanned the dam with my binoculars and didn't see any fresh mud work along it. Then I studied the Lost Swamp Pond dam, and I think it has been built up, but not ostentatiously with gobs of mud.

But the soggy litter the beavers use here works. The dam doesn't leak much at all. The Upper Second Swamp Pond is full too, and the dam betrays no recent repairs. And I didn't see any signs of beavers eating, save at that huge oak up on the slope north of the Lost Swamp Pond. There was more gnawing on the ribs leading to roots,

and I could see definite marks of beaver incisors.

But what else do they eat? Meanwhile the muskrats are busy marking logs and rocks in the Lost Swamp Pond.

I need to sit a spell here and see how many muskrats are vying for territory. The spring beauties are out on the sun drenched north slope of the pond.

Going down through the woods to the Big Pond, I saw something run that I first thought was a small deer. Then I noticed its speed, its level trajectory and bushy tail -- my old friend the coyote, I bet, who looked a good bit bigger than last summer. I angled down to where it had been but smelled no remains. That was also where the beavers had last done some tree cutting, and it looked like they had cut a small poplar down there and even cut off a log. This is a good ways from the pond on a trail surrounded by high brush.

Anticipating that the dam might still be flooded, I took a deer trail to the middle of the dam, which was a good move since the dam is still flooded over and the beavers have only made halfhearted heaving mud repairs.

But the curve of the dam that does all the work is still holding up, and the beavers have built that up.

I didn't see any otter scats. We had a strong east wind today which kept the birds quiet.

We headed to our land in the afternoon. I threw in the minnow net at the First Pond and caught one shiner, no bullheads. I should have been after painted turtles because they were at first plopping back in the water all over, then nosing up to sniff the air. I came to the pond via the hint of a trail below the Teepee Pond dam. About the same time I saw the annual spread of spring beauties, I heard a pine warbler trill. Nice association. I think there are two pine warblers about, though I didn't see them. Two ravens in close formation distracted me from
looking for those little birds. On my way up to the Turtle Bog to check the Blanding's turtles, I heard a comb frog singing with the wood frogs up in the Bunny Bog. That would be a nice addition to the chorus. I tried to sneak down to the Turtle Bog but a plop from the west shore greeted me. I sat down in the moss of the
east shore to give the turtles time to show themselves. I couldn't see any basking on the shore. Soon enough I saw a head moving in the water in the shady south end of the bog. As it moved closer to me I saw the yellow neck and as it continued to come toward me, I had the pleasure of debating over whether it was a big one or small. It got bigger and bigger, and then when it ducked close to the shore where I couldn't see it, I noticed a large turtle in the middle of the bog cruising toward the
thickets along the west shore. Then the turtle who ducked along the shore reappeared and came right up to me. Checking me out with its left eye or nostril,

and then with its right.

This is the first time a Blanding's turtle has ever given me the once over. Usually I butt into their business. I seemed to pass muster and the turtle went over to the birch logs on the far shore and almost got out, but then thought better of it.

I didn't see the other one again. Before I left I saw the more active turtle with its head up out of the water back at the south end of the bog. There is a small turtle here too and my wild theory is that ever since this small turtle appeared the two large turtles, especially, I bet, the female, have been quite active swimming about like good parents. Walking along the bogs I got a good photo of one of those small yellow butterflies that presage the even brighter sun of summer.

Then I walked around the Deep Pond to see if I could see any fresh beaver signs. At the lodge I saw some ambitious logs left to strip

It will be easy to see if any beaver moves those logs about. But I also saw a sign that the beavers have left the lodge -- a sizable hole into the side of a lodge.

More evidence that muskrats or the mink have made themselves at home there, making a nice little entrance now revealed as the pond's water level drops. There were no signs of beavers having been up the inlet creek. I did see prints in the mud, raccoon and could our friend the bobcat have been around?

Then as I continued around the pond I saw two piles of feathers

some feathers arranging themselves like
beautiful flowers

eerie tokens of death.

Two large red tail hawks have been around, one perching in trees nearby. Leslie the feathers are from an owl. Real flowers are on their way. I saw the buds of a Dutchman's britches about to stretch out.


April 16 we went to the land again, even warmer today, but not quite hot. I walked around the Deep Pond again and didn't see any signs of beaver activity, except for noticing that a beaver had gotten up on the knoll above the lodge, and gotten behind my perch up there, and cut down a small tree. I decided to head down to White Swamp to see if the beavers moved down there. Up on the road I saw more grouse feathers in a kill site. I went more or less down the creek going from the Deep Pond to the swamp, taking the easy way along the end of the hay fields. A porcupine was getting the first nutrition from that spread. Judging from the hairless circle on its face, the poor things might have the skin disease porcupines so often get.

While the pond just above White Swamp was not too big, a beaver had pushed a little mud up on the dam.

However, there were no stripped sticks, no cut trees. Beavers often marked the channel going down to the swamp with mud. I didn't see any beaver mud marks there but I was delighted to see several clumps of otter scats.

Otters seemed to mark every high point along the channel. And they, along with a coyote, had visited the mound of mud at the end of the channel.

I assume the coyote did the digging. The scat there was the freshest of the lot

but all were relatively recent. I've never seen otters so attracted to this area, and I wondered why they didn't come up and check out our Deep Pond. Of course, the huge White Swamp below is a bit of a distraction

and quite noisy today with the honking of geese and chattering of ducks and other birds. My tour down to Boundary Pool has become a bit predictable, though still exciting. The beavers seem to have a dozen spots around the pools where they eat the bark off logs and sticks, and then there is the slow gnawing on one of the huge poplars, a couple dozen new gnaws everytime I come

but no indication that any one beaver or the lot of them is set on cutting this tree down. I think they primarily come all this way for the smaller logs and twigs, and just as in the summer, when they first gnawed on the poplars,
they will stop gnawing once the Last Pool gets too low for comfortable nibbling of the small stuff. Looking up the valley from the poplar, I saw a line of small trees that had been cut.

And here, just as in the northwest corner of the pool, the beavers trim off the twigs to make transport of the logs down pond easier.

Well, that seems a sensible explanation for the burgeoning piles of twigs along the shore. There will be a pool of water here until summer, always has been even without beavers around, but without a good deal of rain this pool will no longer connect with the pond below, and so the growing pile of sticks in the middle of the pool continues to puzzle me.

Can the beavers really think it will back up water, or are they more or less caching sticks here so they are a bit closer to the main pond below? Boundary Pond is getting a bit lower but remains as beautiful as a beaver pond can be, especially as I saw a muskrat swim down the middle of it. I walk around it almost in a trance and stop at every point where a new gnaw on a birch log proves that beavers have enjoyed all this loveliness too. Of course, I pause at the usual points: their growing pile of birch logs in the shade of the hemlocks on the east shore of the pond

and their growing pile of birch logs in the shade of the ridge on the west shore of the pond.

The dam is more complicated and while the arrangements of logs on it look different, I have to compare photos. For example, the photo below is exactly like the last photo I took from this angle save that there is now a long thin
stick, on the left side in the photo, just pushed over the dam.

Today it was easy to see the latest log pushed up on the lodge.

But how does a beaver decide to push a log up on the lodge or up over the dam? There are growing piles of stripped logs out in the water.

However, I can be never be sure if collection of logs in the water aren't pushed up as the beavers one after another swim through the channel up and down pond. That might not be a pile accumulated because beavers stripped logs at that
point. I went back to the house via the inner valley where I saw that the beavers cut more birch trees.

My guess is that the beavers drag these trees to the water, nip off the twigs and branches, and then drag the trunk all the way down pond to those spots on either shore. But it would be nice to see this operation in action.

April 17 I went off with Leslie and Patrick in our boat to check the otter latrines around South Bay that are not easily accessible by land. Out on the river, most of the buffleheads were paired up, just a few small gangs of males in the river, say three or four males with one female or none. We excited a heron and an osprey and then I tucked the boat into the back east edge of the big rock that juts into the bay from the north shore of the peninsula. There was a neat crisscross of sticks, stalks and muck on the rock just up from the water, no telling if a beaver or muskrat left it.

Over the years both species have marked here. Patrick was the first to get a whiff of otter scat and there was an array of it extensive enough to smell a few feet to the south of the mark. Pat and I got out of the boat and pondered whether the nibbled sticks floating in the water were left by beavers or
muskrats or both.

My impulse is to say that the delicate, tentative gnawing was done by a muskrat, but a muskrat usually motor mouths when it gnaws, delicate, perhaps, but a buzz saw. Then up where the grass and dirt flank the rock, there was a
classic otter scent mound, with dirt clawed out and leaves and grass mounded

and nice squiggles of liquid scat traced on top of the mound.

Very nice. As we moved inland, I turned to get a photo of this major bulletin board for aquatic mammals.

Along the marsh we saw leaves pushed up on the shore, beaver fashion,

and saw beaver gnawing on one of the oak trunks up on at this time of year is an island in the bay.

That made seeing a porcupine in a tree more interesting.

Did it get out here while the ice was good and water low, or claw and wade and maybe swim through the flooded marsh -- about a 20 meter challenge? No matter, it looked rather cocky up in the tree looking down on us. Then we motored around the peninsula, not checking the latrine up on the point, and climbed out on the low willow limb at the willow latrine. We were greeted by the cut head of a large bullhead.

The cut was not the usual jagged chomp of an otter. But I don't think the heron that flew off as we came in would cut a bullhead like that either. Pat suggested bullhead fishermen, but I've never noticed them cutting up fish while in the boat, and this bullhead looked too big to be a keeper. We ducked around to the east end of the latrine and saw an array of scraping and scating. The scats were more generous than the other scats I've seen along the lower bay. There were hints of scent mounds but nothing big enough to hang my hat on.

Over in the water of the marsh we saw another bullhead head, this one chomped in typical otterly fashion.

We could only wonder where in the wide, now wet marsh, the otters might be.

We also motored over to the beaver lodge tucked back in the bay on the east end of Murray Island. No signs of recent beaver activity. We enjoyed looking at a pair of common mergansers and hearing the leopard frogs snore.

We went to our land in the afternoon to spend of first night of the year there, roughly the same time we did last year. We both took it easy. Leslie checked on Blanding's turtles, none out, and then scouted out the flowers and found
just up from the road the most beautiful clump of violet hepatica.

I ambled down to the Deep Pond and saw a pheasant cross the road.

Not a regular visitor by any means. I sat on the low west shore of the Deep Pond and contemplated what seems to be a beaverless pond. The high bank of the opposite shore looked well moulded around several soft holes into its soft dirt,
a history of past beavers.

Leslie reported seeing otter scats over there and indeed there is a nice pile up on top of the bank that looks about as old as the scats I saw along the inlet creek as it drains into White Swamp.

So the otters did come up to check out our pond. I went to check the rugged valley up from the Deep Pond, perhaps the beavers moved up there. And on the way, still near our pond, I saw a very fresh cut of a small sapling, but that can
stay fresh looking during the cool spring. The valley above our pond rises quickly. The west side of it is a series of pools

running below a towering jumble of sandstone.

It is hard to believe that the little stream through the pool, that only runs during the spring, and has about petered out, could carve that valley.

Where it now runs into what I call the inlet creek, the stream runs under a jumble of rocks.

So now, it is not strong enough to move or wear away those stones. The east side of the valley which is separated from the pools below the rocks by an easy rolling hill, is a pleasant woods below as less precipitous cliff. Part of the wood drains into one of the upper pools below the rocks and the remainder slopes down to the Deep Pond. About halfway along that slope down, a spring burbles out from the ridge, forming a more constant source of water for the inlet creek.

Rather remarkable area on our neighbor's side of the line. I saw where beavers recently cut some trees about where the two sources of the creek meet, but I saw no beaver work up the valley around the pools. So I don't think the beavers went that way. I looked for flowers too, around the knoll behind the
beaver bank lodge, always a good place since in the spring it gets a good dose of sun. I tried to get photos of more that one type of flower blooming, and the best I could do for now, is Dutchman's britches and spring beauties.

The trillium are budding up

and then I saw a startling token of the beavers. One had climbed up a steep little cliff and cut a small tree, perhaps an elm.

Rather ambitious. Or can I take it as the sign of the beavers' desperation? One of the groves of saplings they stopped clearing was a thick spread of prickly ash. The beavers up at the Teepee cleared out the prickly ash before they moved out. We had dinner early and then I went off to see the Boundary Pond beavers. There was a gusty wind from the southwest so I approached the pond along the hemlock shaded shore east of the pond. Unfortunately a beaver in the middle of the upper end of the pond saw me before I saw it, and it slapped its tail and swam back to the lodge. I found a rock to sit on with a good view of the now flooded log dam. Any beaver swimming up pond would have to swim relatively close to me. In about fifteen minutes a beaver swam up toward me, but first veered over toward the west end of the pond and fished up some twigs to nibble,

then it swam over right at me, but didn't notice me and then turned up pond diving so that it swam through the breach in the log dam under water.

The beaver stayed in what I used to call Logdam Pool and, while I didn't have a good view, it looked liked it cut off a small log from a downed birch trunk, and gnawed it on shore. I was expecting to see it ferry a log
down to the lodge but it didn't. Then I lost track of it because it kept diving under water, probably finding small things to nibble, and then I think it went up to the Last Pool. Then another beaver swam up pond taking the same route as the other
but not stopping to nibble. It sniffed the air as it swam by me, but didn't stop. It too swam through the log dam breach under water.

and then I lost track of it, in part because a few minutes later another beaver appeared before me. This beaver was smaller and as it bobbed for twigs to nibble

it cocked its tail high in the air. This beaver also swam through the breach in log dam, which is the most interesting thing I observed. I suppose this may be a safety precaution because at that narrow spot a predator could get close to the beaver without getting into the water. But narrow channels can also get clogged up with sunken sticks and logs, so maybe swimming under water there is prudent maintenance of the channel. When the little beaver got up into the wide part of the upper pond, it looked back at me before finding something to nibble.

In my experience the smaller beavers notice me more. Soon enough the little beaver even slapped its tail, though I heard something move behind me so it could have been reacting to another animal. Older beavers generally don't pay attention when a smaller beaver slaps its tail, and the upshot of the alarm was that the little beaver swam up pond, I assume up to the Last Pool with the other beavers. I waited 15 minutes for another beaver to appear. None did. As it got darker I moved closer to the lodge, eventually standing above the the pile of stripped birch that has been growing larger.

I strained to hear noises from the lodge -- the peepers on the far shore were getting pretty loud. And I thought I did hear a hum from the lodge, but I didn't hear it again. Just when it was getting too dark to remain, I was startled to see a beaver, coming from up pond, swim right below me. I was expecting to see beavers ferrying logs down the pond, but this beaver brought nothing with it. Was it angling over to nibble the logs already there? It swam by me and then swam back. It must have known I was there. I think it was a larger beaver
also swimming down the pond, who slapped its tail. I think it swam toward the lodge. Walking home in the dark, going up the east shore, I didn't see or hear another beaver. A few mosquitoes were biting. Taking advantage of the dark I threw out the minnow net in the Teepee Pond and brought three or four bullheads up with every cast. I had been unable to catch any fish during the day, which makes sense. There is no vegetation in the pond yet to give fish cover from hungry birds.

April 19 showers yesterday and today was sunny, cooler and breezy, the proverbial perfect day, though not on a boat. I headed off in the late afternoon hoping to rendezvous with some courting and
battling muskrats, not to mention a beaver. But, of course, I looked for otter scats first. There was nothing new at the little causeway latrine at the end of the south cove of South Bay. I veered out to the oak knoll that overlooks the end of the north
cove of the bay, where I had seen old otter scats before. I sat there a bit to see if any fish stirred, no, and the scats before looked relatively old, but I kept smelling scat, which meant there had to be some relatively fresh close by. Finally I saw that an otter had come up on a huge moss covered root from the oak,

and squirted out some black, odiforous scats. Nice place to poop.

I couldn't resist a photograph of one of the old scats nestled next to some nicely patterned hard mushrooms ranging out from the exposed root.

The photo gives a nice contrast between evolved design and random excretion, more to the credit of the latter than most are willing to admit, but I suppose I am peculiar in my regard for otters scats. As I approach the old dock latrine on the other side of the cove, I saw a muskrat swim into the lodge beavers fashioned in the dock last year. From where I stood on the trail I could see that an otter or two had visited the latrine. So I took a long shot of the latrine

and kept my camera ready in case a muskrat came out. One came out and another right on its tail. I have never seen muskrats look so beautiful. Both had their fur fluffed out as if to show its rich reddish brown color to the best advantage. I snapped a photo

and scrambled to get my camcorder out, because I could sense that courtship, if not mating was in the offing. But they noticed me, and swam right back under the dock. I took some photos of the fresh otter scats,

and then retreated a discreet distance up the hill, sat on a rock and gave the muskrats 15 minutes before passion got the better of them and they tumbled out into the open water to celebrate it. They didn't come back out and I shuffled off on my way, an unrequited dirty old man. I checked Thicket Pond and saw no new gnawing by the beaver, and all the mud marks along the dam were old. I walked carefully up the north shore through all the old beaver work and saw no signs of any attempt to renew old girdles which beavers often do. There were wood ducks in the thickets, who wouldn't let me scare them away. And I heard the plop of a painted turtle. But no beaver. My prediction has been that this beaver will return to its family in Shangri-la Pond. I have a theory that a beaver family's claim to an area
commands the respect of other beavers even three to four years after the family left the pond. So by that theory the Shangri-la Pond beavers still have a claim on Thicket Pond, and only if a beaver there is related would they suffer it to remain. Of course, the Shangri-la Pond beavers may have driven the other beaver away, but they've been busy repairing their dam. To give this application of my theory any legs, I have to figure out if another beaver joined the Shangri-la Pond family. I went up the ridge to the north and approached Shangri-la Pond from that high
northwest direction. I saw that they had done some more gnawing on the limbs of the red maple that they cut last fall at the end of the pond.

The western reach of the pond is as full as it was before the breach

and if I had been away for the past two weeks I probably wouldn't even notice that the dam had a massive breach and had been repaired.

Sometimes these beavers come out between 5pm and 6pm. I sat watching the lodge until 5:30 and then decided I best move on. I walked around the north arm of the pond and saw a good bit of fresh work, mostly girdling and gnawing the large trees -- red maples I think, but perhaps basswood.

One tree they have worked on during the winter has been left for a strong wind to blow over, and it is on a tilt.

It looked like the beavers had been up to the little pond above, but I didn't check out if they are cutting the many saplings and small trees up there. No signs of them ferrying them back to the main pond. It's possible they are living for the moment off the girdling they do.

I took a photo of the dam, still no great gobs of mud that I had predicted they would lard on, but whose to quarrel with their quick, expert repair.

I checked the otter latrine on the north shore of the Second Swamp Pond but there was absolutely no signs that otters had been there. I think the brisk east wind kept ducks off the pond and geese in hiding. As I hike around the ponds, I
frequently check my pants for deer ticks. Through fifty yards of dead vegetation around the marshy areas, I might get one or two ticks. But going through the dead vegetation northwest of the Second Swamp Pond, as I left Fisher Woods, where red stalked berry stickers were rearing up, I picked up about 8 ticks, with one tick on top of another. My hope is that various areas come alive with ticks at different times and that such infestations last only a few days. As the comb frogs warmed up in the vernal pools just north of the pond, I walked up the north shore of the pond by staying close to the water, which was easy because the pond is a bit low, indicating that no beavers had repaired the holes in the that dam. I hoped that meant they had been firming up the Upper Second Swamp Pond dam, but that dam is leaking generously.

No beavers signs at the lodge in the pond, nor in the lodge along the creek feeding the pond. Perhaps the beavers have taken advantage of the recent rains to move up into what I call Paradise Pond (which at this time of year is probably a paradise for deer ticks.) There was a lone female mallard standing on a log just behind the dam. What a beautiful duck the mallard is. I'd gladly court her, but she flew away. I came up behind the Lost Swamp Pond lodge that is beside the dam. It certainly looked like the beavers had moved out, no nibbled sticks, no mud pats, no muss and fuss of life

Then a muskrat surfaced just outside the lodge and quickly dove, probably swimming into the lodge. The only sign of beaver concerns for the dam was at the patch. It did look like some fresh muck had been pushed up.

But that was it, and there was muskrat poop nearby. I walked around the west end of the pond -- no new otter scats. I did see two muskrats close together along the point that divides the northeast from the southeast sections of the pond.

I got my camcorder out, but there was no mating or fighting. They just nibbled grasses side by side. I saw a goose out on the big lodge in the southeast end of the pond, nicely out of the brisk east wind that was getting colder. As of 6pm no beavers were out. Here again the beavers could have moved up into little ponds east of the Lost Swamp Pond, but last time I looked there, everything seemed rather spent. Going down to the Big Pond to the northwest canal, I felt like I was troding in slosh that beavers had sloshed through, but they left no tell tale sticks along the way. It looks like there are some freshly stripped sticks on the lodge, but not many.

What a contrast with the well sticked lodge at the Boundary Pond dam on our land, but I have never seen a lodge as well sticked as that. I saw some muck pushed up on the dam, but not much. Then way in the distance up pond, I saw somethings swimming. Although it dove like an otter, showing a little tail on the way down, I am almost certain that it was a beaver diving down and bringing up little bits of grass to nibble. It was too far away to get a video of it, though I was tempted. There were frogs peeping in the tall grasses in front of me evidently not aware that I was there because of the stiff wind. But I am sure the wind in the microphone of the camcorder would have drowned everything out. Continuing along the dam, I saw were a muskrat nibbled rhizomes and left not a few poops.

I didn't see any otter scats, and didn't see anymore of the beaver out in the pond. Going up to the big rock on my way home, in a hole in the granite jumble below the big rock, just on the other side of where a porcupine sometimes dens, a small head poked out, took a look at me, and then, I think, the animal retreated under the rocks.

It was probably a mink but in my memory the head gets bigger. I suppose it could have been a fisher. There were many deer feasting on the green grass of the golf course. While up on the ridge, I noticed that midges were swarming just above me head. I took a photo that I knew wouldn't come out well, but ginning up some fancy editing functions

it suddenly looks like midges are the dark
matter that explains the remaining mysteries of the universe.