June 4 I kayaked over to South Bay in the afternoon and saw that the geese with goslings were in the cove in front of our house, or rather up in those lawns cut the shortest. There seemed to be a good infestation of midges too, the beige ones rather than black, but not as many bugs as in the earlier swarms. There were a couple common terns working the bay; the usual complement of herons, one doing much croaking. The carp were spawning along the south shore of the bay, where I don't recall them ever being very active, as
well as along the marsh at the end of the south cove and the marsh and north shore of the north cove. I think it's been a couple of years since they've been this active. I saw some possible beaver work near the end of the south cove, though it's
possible the stripped logs just blew in under a big willow. I didn't see any work in the other willows along all the shores, but I did see fresh cutting on a red oak that had branches hanging just above the water. This was on the north shore of the
bay, where the beavers have centered their activity in the last few years. There were no otter signs anywhere. I also didn't see any ducklings. I did notice a dead carp and two dying fish, a bullhead and a bass both about a foot long. Both had the same conditions, black skin mottled with white. Both were still upright but unable to swim out of my way. Green algae is starting to bloom but not as fiercely as I expected it would. I didn't see any yellow flag irises, but the high bush cranberry was blooming gently white.
June 5 we got to the land at lunch time and after lunch I stretched my legs, walking down the road and then down to White's Swamp, which is just beginning to get green.
I didn't expect much activity in the middle of a bright sunny and relatively warm day, but not only did I see two gallinules and another small duck, but heard some steady clucking coming from the vegetation in the shallows. As some
ducks clucked, a heron trying to fish nearby croaked.
One of the gallinules was diving for food probably in little more than a foot of water. I suppose I should say it was swimming underwater because it surfaced a considerable distance from where it dived. Two painted turtles climbed up on logs, not near each other.
Snapping turtles always seem to be aware of other snappers, same with Blanding's turtles. Painted turtles seem to have a great tolerance for their co-specifics. I sat above a small old bank lodge, and on the shore there, over the
years, I've usually seen beaver mudmarks. There were two there this year but not large nor fresh.
Then I sat at Deep Pond. On my way to my chair, I noticed that the beavers had pushed some mud up on the dam that has not been tended since the last beaver left a month ago.
So, we are getting some service for leaving aspen branches at the dam for the beavers. The dragonflies were not so active today. I thought I saw a new stripped log on the bank of the east shore, so I decided to walk over there and then
head for Boundary Pond. When I crossed over the knoll, both beavers swam out from the lodge there, though both swam to different areas of the pond.
So both beavers are staying in the lodge. In other years we've had pairs of beavers who didn't share dens. One stayed in the lodge and the other in one of the many burrows around the pond. Since I wanted to come back and feed them later
I didn't bug the beavers, which means I didn't walk around to check for possible new work. On the flat west of the knoll, I saw where the beavers may be eating some ferns. The path going up from the pond to there seemed wet and the little spread of ferns there seemed half eaten.
That path is next to the striking mud mark left there a few days ago. It looked liked another wave of mud had been added to it, and some more cut grass.
As I headed up the ridge to Boundary Pond I had a thought of angling down to the Wildcat Pond dam to see how the jacks-in-the-pulpit were doing but one of the bogs up on the ridge was rather flooded and when I found a way around, I saw that I was right above Boundary Pond dam, so I went to have a look at that. As I was noticing that the ironwoods the beavers cut were rather well trimmed of branches,
I saw that there was a bouquet of grass being ferried into the pond. I got my camcorder on it just before the bouquet dove into the water and while I suspected a muskrat was the bearer of the bouquet, I thought I got a glimpse of a beaver. Then I saw that there was a beaver definitely out in the pond, even though it was about 4pm. It swam over to me and I thought it was the usual lookout doing its job, but it didn't zero in on me as it did the last time I checked the pond. Then I noticed that there was another beaver out, near the dam. So I sidled up to a
tree that might offer concealment and tried to figure out what was going on. The last time I saw a beaver carry grasses into a lodge, it was when the beavers in the First Pond had their last litter in the spring of 2005. So I wanted to see more greens carried into the lodge, by a beaver. Well, I didn't, but I got every other indication that there were kits in the lodge. The two or three beavers out in the pond often dove under water, came up and then swam back into the lodge.
And I heard humming from the lodge, the typical beaver hum, as well as a very high pitched hum. A mother and kits ordering breakfast? The beavers out in the pond also went to the dam, where there seemed to be even more work. Finally two beavers, I think, swam up pond. I waited for one or both to return with something for those in the lodge. I think both did return but came back to the east entrance of the lodge which I couldn't see well. There was a breeze that kept the pond water moving, and with two beavers out, and frequently diving, the pond water, at times, was rocking like water in a busy bathtub. However, I don't want to give the impression that the beavers I saw were obsessive about taking food into the lodge. Indeed, I saw them feed themselves too, and bob about in the water without
any purpose that I could discern. At 5pm a chorus of Gray Tree frogs began, the beginning of a noisy night. After dinner I went back down to the Deep Pond, carrying two more aspen branches. Leslie had taken some smaller branches down in the afternoon and as I threw the larger branches on the dam, I noticed that the dam had been built up even more, not only with mud but with cut grass, making it look more like that scent mound near the lodge.
Then I sat on the chair along the low west shore of the pond, only partially concealed by a little honeysuckle bush. I didn't have long to wait for a beaver to swim out from the lodge, and after swimming close enough to the dam to see what caused all the ripples, it was right on my case, swimming back and forth in front of me and slapping its tail frequently. Of course, I kept wishing it would simply go gnaw my gift. Then the other beaver swam out and over to the dam, and after a short swerve back toward me, it went to the dam, where I couldn't see it, but I could hear the gnawing on the aspen. I waited for the other beaver to join the feast, but it kept patroling in front of me, even slapping its tail. (Here was
another instance of a beaver using its tail slaps to bug an intruder, with no intention of sounding an alarm to warn other beavers away.) Then when the beaver angled toward the dam, it sounded like the other beaver made a splashing shove to drive it away. I got the impression that the patroling beaver was coping with the other beaver's tendency to dominate it, by strictly doing its duty as protector of the pond. Finally it angled over to the dam, cut off some of the aspen branch and pulled it away from the other beaver. I stood and got a video of them both.
The beaver just joining did a bit of grooming first. It never struck me that tail slapping might rather get a beaver's fur in a state of disorder, which explains why beavers that seemed to worked up at my presence, could, once they reconciled themselves to my presence, pull themselves out of the water and placidly groom their fur. I tried to sneak away without disturbing them but they swam out into the middle of the pond, as I walked up the road nearby. I had not sat by the Teepee Pond yet this spring so I braved the swarming mosquitoes and sat by that pond enjoying the gray tree frogs and one bullfrog. Then as the bird song died down, dominated by veerys, I heard the whip-poor-will's insistent call, but had to strain to hear. The other chorusing almost drowned it out. An almost full moon rose
over the pond. I saw one bat, and heard half of a barred owl's call. Then I watched a deer browse the grasses on the opposite shore. I was sitting behind the trunk of the cedar tree that blew down during the winter, and a honeysuckle bush. So the deer
didn't see me, but it did smell me. It stopped and stared in my direction for a good five minutes, which means its big ears were on high alert. When I stood up to go, it gave out a snort and jumped into the grass, and then made another loud snort. Then it
seemed that every step it made in its flight away from it accompanied with a snort. Perhaps it did that to compensate for being unsure in the tall grass. The snorting stopped when it reached the woods.
June 6 despite the bright moon, we didn't hear any coyotes call during the night. In the morning I headed back to the island and found the sunny day in the high 60s perfect for a tour of the beaver ponds. I cut off Antler Trail up toward the Big Pond, flushing two deer along the way. After our recent heavy rain, I worried that the Big Pond dam might be in jeopardy. Over the two years, the beavers have built it up with mud with almost no logs bracing the mud. I found the pond as full as it was before the
rain, and more pretty now since the blue flag iris was blooming, and the beaver pushed up mud nearby.
I sat down on my perch, and a mated pair of wood ducks flew up from the pool of water below and landed in the pond right in front of me. The female kept giving her plaintive moan staying in the open, while the male poked around in the grasses.
I guessed that they were trying to collect their ducklings, and I was right. First one swam out of the grasses between me and the mother, and then three swam over from the farside of the pond. The duckling that had been alone didn't exactly swim up to its mother but it was eager to join its three siblings. They all formed up and swam up pond. There was an impressive range of work on the beaver dam. A push of mud even snared an iris stalk. These plants have bloomed here as long as I can remember and the beavers never roughed them up in any way.
I find it hard to get a photo showing how high the beavers have made the mud wall of the dam,
except, perhaps, by showing how low the cattails below the dam are. The beavers put more honeysuckle on the dam, but most of the sticks used to brace the dam seem rather puny. That concave wall of mud keeps the water from rushing down the old creek bed. There is another 150 feet of mud dam containing the back up of water. The ground below that part of the dam is still rather wet but I could dance along their mudwork and find enough dry ground below to keep my feet somewhat dry.
I saw two places where the beavers appear to have brought up things to nibble from below the dam. At one they pushed up cattail stalks
and at the other there was a cut honeysuckle.
The latter had a larger collection twigs. The trail down into the vegetation below the dam was rather slim, and wet.
A beaver would probably feel quite secure, rather at home, waddling down it. I'm beginning to think that the beaver's goal in life is to fashion wet burrows through vegetation and these grand ponds we so admire are just burrows that got out of hand. Why should beavers have any hankering for an expance, the way we do. They have to be more conscious of the pond bottom and its burrowing channels. I walked up the north shore to check the lodge and was struck by how flattened the vegetation was behind the dam
The beavers must have spent some time there, but I didn't see many nibbled sticks. The lodge itself is growing, losing its beehive look and becoming something more burly
like the beavers are living in the hump of a huge buffalo. I took the surveyor's trail to the Lost Swamp Pond and found that pond rather quiet, save that a heron flew off from the water, and an osprey flew off from the top of a tree. I stood up on the rock about in the middle of the south shore of the pond, and scanned all the shores for fresh beaver work, and saw none. Then I walked around the pond, nosing over the mossy cove latrine and finding new, but not fresh otter scat.
The otter dug a bit of a hole in the latrine but compared to the years when otter families hung out at this pond, there was no sense of the latrine being worked over, raked by sharp claws and rolled by squirming back.
So I think only one otter visits here maybe once a week. There is a big spread of mayapples under the tall trees behind this otter latrine. Last year, not a few mayapple leaves had been eaten, I think by beavers, but this year all were intact above their single white blooms.
But the beavers are here. The dam tells the tale. There is more mud on it
and even another log pushed on top of the mud, perpendicular to the line of the dam. There are a few nibbled sticks at the end of the dam.
However, I didn't see any signs of beavers being in the Upper Second Swamp pond
or in the Second Swamp Pond. But the dams of both of the those ponds are more or less intact and hold back a comfortable expanse of water. Not so Shangri-la Pond where grass is almost growing down to the huge gap in the failed dam.
I didn't linger, though someday I should, if only to count how many logs the beavers collected and stripped in this pond before vegetations buries them all. I didn't see any new beaver activity around Thicket Pond, but I only walked down the north shore. I was eager to see if the beaver in Meander Pond took any more branches off the ironwoods it cut in the rocks above the north shore of that pond. The smaller ironwood that had already been cut in half now has the curious double cut beavers are prone to make
like they set a higher premium on working their teeth through hard wood rather than simply cutting a log. And higher up on the rocks, I saw another example of this. A beaver cut down a big ironwood, and then almost cut through the trunk again a few inches up the tree.
I tried to get my camera low to get a beaver view of this feat.
Not sure why a beaver would do this, and meanwhile the crown of the ironwood highest up on the rocks has been almost subdued, half its branches now cut off. Then a bit farther down the ridge, there is even a bigger
ironwood, and that has been tasted by a beaver.
Then when I looked down at the pond below, I didn't see any branches. But the pond was muddy
and the dam had been built up some more
The chunky log I had noticed with a bit of mud on it and then a bit more, was now covered with mud. And then there was another log placed on top of the mud in another section of the dam
Maybe I'll see some ironwood logs there soon. Then I went back to our land and headed down to the Boundary Pond around 4:30. I inspected the work around the Last Pool and saw where the beavers had cut small trees below the
ledge forming the slight ridge
and where they dragged the trunks into the pond. There seemed to be a corridor formed by collected twigs on one side and a little bit of collecting and dredging on the other side.
I hoped to sneak down to my chair over looking the upper end of Boundary Pond without disturbing a beaver, but I did, and it swam quietly down to the lodge. From my chair I could just see a beaver swimming around the lodge, and there certainly was one busy down there, but certainly there wasn't as much activity as yesterday. Eventually a beaver swam down below me, and more or less went about its business. No sign of it worrying about feeding anything helpless in the lodge. It slowly went about feeding itself. I kept hearing some scratching
behind me, and snuck a glance and saw a turkey. I flipped the camcorder viewer so I could see and record what was behind me, which probably turned out better than if I had faced the bird.
After dinner, I went down to feed the Deep Pond beavers. The dam looked like it had more mud on it
Then after I tossed in the new offering, I went to my seat. The beavers more or less behaved the same way as the night before, except the patroling beaver didn't slap its tail as much, and when it angled over to the branch by the dam, the other beaver didn't let it near. So it swam out to gnaw on an already stripped log floating in the pond. I had only thrown in one long branch, instead of the usual two. So I went up the hill and cut two more branches off the aspen. But when I brought them down, scaring the two beavers into the middle of the
pond, it looked like the branch had been cut so both beavers could have there share. I didn't go to the Teepee pond tonight, the mosquitoes were tiring me out.
June 7 It was cloudy and threatening in the morning. We walked down the road to White Swamp, and saw a snapping turtle about to lay her eggs.
Then I walked around Boundary Pond just as it started to drizzle. I haven't walked down the east shore for a while. The beavers have been girdling and almost cutting several large trees there, three poplars, two beeches,
and a birch or two. They seemed to have given up all those projects. Instead along the Last Pool I saw a new pile of stripped sticks rather up from the water.
Then down beside Boundary Pond I saw a stripped and gnawed hemlock.
A beaver stripped long pieces of bark, as well as gnawed on the inner bark, and then gnawed into the wood, and also gnawed a bit off two above ground roots. I've noticed that the beavers have taken small hemlocks and pines here, but nothing this ambitious. In the 17th century, the Jesuits, I think, reported that Indians said beavers ate evergreens when they were having kits.
I think there are kits in the lodge, and wish there was a way to tell just by looking at the lodge. It did look like smaller sticks had been piled at one of the underwater entrances into the lodge, the east entrance where
I've been seeing the beavers go inside and out.
Then I took photos of the dam which also looks more built up, primarily by the addition of logs and sticks.
Looking behind the dam, which has been drying in several days of sunshine there is simply no mud nor its equivalent.
The logs are impressive and makes the dam look indestructable, but the dam still leaks in several places.
The west side of the lodge does look a little different from the east side. This is the side I think the muskrats are using, and they just traffic in grasses which they take right into the lodge, no making piles for them.
There were no hums this morning.
June 8 I headed off at 4pm a little after a sunny day turned cloudy. We didn't have much rain yesterday and the trails were dry. I went directly to Meander Pond, crossing the meadow below the dam and then climbing half way up the rocks north of the pond. The pond is still muddy, but there were no logs or branches, stripped or ready to strip, near the burrow or along the dam. I sat on the same rock from where I saw the beaver
browse the vegetation below. My lucky rock. Like last time, the beaver didn't make an entrance. A little after 5pm, I saw its back roll up out of the water in channel dead ahead of me. It was so uncanny, I first thought it might be a huge snapping turtle. Then the beaver's head came up. It swam down a channel going to the dam, paused to eat some grasses beside the channel, and then it swam behind the dam, mostly under water. After it dove in the muddy area of the pond outside the burrow, a muskrat swam out of the burrow, whistling. Last time I was here a whistling muskrat
seemed to make a beaver appear, now the opposite! Did the beaver swim into the burrow and move the muskrat out? No, I soon saw that the beaver had surfaced at the dam, behind a tree trunk so I couldn't see it. It went up to the dam twice, then dove and I didn't see it again. The muskrat had swum down the channel to the middle of the pond.
So after two promising entrances there was a lull, in the action, not in the sound. It started raining which delighted a large and loud bunch of green frogs. There were banjo twangs from all around the grassy pond. The rain was light, though I put my cameras away. I was hoping to see another muskrat and another beaver, because the impression I was getting was that the muskrat and beaver I had seen together twice had some strange relationship -- at least it kept the muskrat whistling! While I never saw two muskrats together, I did see clearly that there are at least two. I saw one ferry vegetation into the burrow while another was down by the dam. There may even be a third. So the muskrats are normal and living in the burrow. Meanwhile I had seen the beaver swim up the central channel, never going into the burrow. I heard two splashes from the middle of the pond, then a beaver swam back down the channel, slowly, acting like the beaver I've been seeing. I got the camcorder back out as the beaver was swimming down a channel leading to me. Then it submerged and I didn't see where it went. Could this beaver be
so traumatized by the failure of the dam in Shangri-la Pond that it was simply living in the grasses? Then I saw that it had climbed up on the shore of the higher ground that almost cuts the pond in two. Well, the beaver is not so strange after all. I decided it was time to go and did so with my camera clicking: the pond grasses where I thought the beaver disappeared
its continued cutting of the crown of the highest ironwood, and some gnawing on an elm.
Then as I moved up the the north shore of the pond, I looked down and saw a beaver nibbling away at vegetation in the middle of a channel. This beaver seemed to be different that the beaver I had been watching.
At first I thought I saw that more tentative nibbler still in the grasses on shore, but when I looked closer there was no beaver there. So? Then the mystery was solved, as I walked down toward the middle of the pond, where the old beaver lodges are, I saw a new beaver lodge, actually the smaller of the old ones now tripled in hulk, and a beaver on top of it. I didn't get the camera out in time to capture the beaver, so I photographed the new lodge.
The beaver climbed down and gathered an armful of mud and brought it a little way up the slope of the lodge.
I rooted myself hoping to watch it bring more mud or logs up on the lodge. But there was no more activity, and I could see that the lodge was rather well built up. I may have just seen the finishing touches! When did I last
walk down this shore? June 6. There was no way that I could have missed seeing this lodge. It is built on the smaller of the old lodges in the pond and is easy to see from the path I usually take down this shore.
The beavers probably built the lodge in two nights. So a month after the failure of Shangri-la Pond dam, the beavers relocated in Meander Pond, built up the dam and then a lodge. Now I think that the beaver in Thicket Pond is not a family member and was slapping its tail to express its
displeasure at the beavers coming back to their old pond. The beavers left Thicket Pond in June 2007 and now they are in Meander Pond where they had been in 2006. I walked up to Thicket Pond, no beaver slapped its tail. I didn't see any new work but
the pond looked a bit used, with trails in the muck coating in the water. Of course, ducks could have done that.
June 9 after the morning rain stopped, and it has rained during the night, we went to the land. I sat at the Deep Pond first. I took down a section of the aspen trunk. As I threw it in I noticed
that the beavers didn't eat all of the bark off the last branches I left them, but the dam is higher.
No beaver came out, nor muskrat. As the sky clear the wind freshened, the humidity lessened and I realize that I should be sitting at Boundary Pond to see how early the beavers there would come out. The other day they were out at 4pm, would they be out at 2 pm. Before I left the Deep Pond, I checked that swath of ferns that looked half cut. I thought I could see a new path through the ferns, and then I noticed a jack-in-the-pulpit,
just before the line of ferns. This is an amazing plant, a real dandy with its striped stalk.
I moved the chair at the Boundary Pond down to the ridge just above the lodge on the west shore. I would be able to see beavers coming in and out and hear humming from inside the beaver. On the way down the Last Pool struck me as having more water, which makes sense after rain,
but the Boundary Pool looked like it had less water and it looked like a mound of sticks and logs behind the middle of the dam had been exposed as the water dropped.
But looking at the lodge, I saw none of the wet stain left when the water level drops on the logs there. If no beavers came out, I would walk down to the dam to investigate. But at 2:30 a beaver came out and swam up pond. Would it soon come back bringing food inside the lodge? As I waited for that I saw the water behind the lodge, from where I sat, well up. I knew another beaver was out, but I couldn't see it. Then it swam up to the dam and dropped a small log on the pile of logs behind the dam that I had just noticed. Then it swam toward me, going behind
the dam, nosed into a small stripped log in the water, then dove. I feared because it saw me. I thought it swam into the lodge, but I think it swam around the lodge and then I saw swim over to the dam and dropped another log on the pile. Evidently the beaver was picking up logs from the bottom of the pond to clear channels clogged by logs the beavers had collected and stripped in the winter. This makes a good deal of sense. The beaver kept at it, however, sometimes it only dove a few feet behind the dam and then pushed muck up on the dam. He still built up the east end of the dam.
But at the center of the dam, it added logs to the pile behind the dam. I've never seen this before, but I've never studied a pond like this before. The beaver also worked uncharacteristically fast. I kept thinking that there were two
beavers doing this, but I never saw two at once.
I didn't hear any humming in the lodge. I left at 4pm, walking along the ridge, and when I got toward the end of Boundary Pond, I saw a beaver, the larger, first beaver that swam out from the lodge, hunched up in the water eating some green vegetation. I went above the Last Pool and saw a trail back to a just cut elm, but walking a few feet farther up the meadow, all the beavers' world dissolved into a wall of green.
As I sat in the chair on the ridge, I attracted more insects than mosquitoes, a leaf hopper type, a green fly, and a flying black beetle. There were also some dragonflies cruising around in the forest shade.
June 10 again we came to our land in the afternoon, a little later today. I took a branch down to the Deep Pond and saw the section of the trunk I left yesterday had not been completely stripped. After I threw the branch in, I sat by the pond. Not much happened other than yellow warblers zooming about. With the dam higher, the pond is rising and the beavers adjusted the mud mark on the west side of the knoll.
As I was leaving, a kingfisher circled above the pond and found a perch high in a tree away from me. Going up the road I heard a couple of wood trushes singing. Then at 4pm, I got to the Boundary Pond, sort of picking up where I left off yesterday. On my way I was careful to keep on the ridge so I wouldn't scare any beavers in the pond. Grouse Alley is still wet and thick with mosquitoes. It was a cloudy, humid and there were at least twice as many mosquitoes bothering me today. The wind was just starting to pick up and it sometimes came from the north rippling the water like a beaver was swimming back to the lodge, or perhaps it was a beaver. Finally I did see one swimming past the lodge, carrying a small branch in its mouth. It stopped before it got to the pile of sticks behind the lodge. I really think it noticed me. It dropped the stick and swam right over to me, circled below me, dove and disappeared. That was disappointing but at least it didn't slap its tail. Then a beaver came out of the lodge and swam up the pond. Anyway, I began to see sort of what I saw yesterday, one beaver up pond and the other swimming behind the dam, except that the beaver concerned with the dam kept noticing me, which always gave it pause, prompting it to swim over circling below me and then going back into the lodge. I should have moved my seat. There was less wind then yesterday which meant I could see subtler bubbles in the pond. I suspected that some were made by a turtle, and soon enough I saw a turtle head poke out of the water. It seemed shaped like a snapping turtle's head and soon enough I saw the snapper, a rather big one, emerge from the water and climb over the dam.
Perhaps the pond was too shady for it and it moved downstream looking for sun. I did hear some humming, and some of it sounded high and feeble, call it kittish, but the more normal humming seemed associated with the return of the beaver keeping an eye on me, as if it was reporting on what it saw to the beavers inside the lodge. So I took a photo of the dam from where I sat,
packed my cameras and headed up pond. No insects landed on me today, other than mosquitoes, but I saw more birds, a glimpse of a thrush, a flycatcher of some sort, though not a phoebe, and a blue jay flew up the pond. I wanted to take a dryer way back so I angled down to my trail along the Last Pool.
At the end of the pool, I saw that there was a mound of twigs in the water.
As I was getting my camera out to take a photo of that, a beaver came down the trail above the pond, paused briefly to get a whiff of me, and, leaving a bit of its strong scent behind, it moved into the water and swam away.
Not in a panic, but eager to get away. Continuing up the trail I saw the trunks of some tall skinny elms in the process of being cut up. After dinner I walked down to the Deep Pond, bringing down another aspen branch. I got there a few
minutes before 8, later than my usual evening visit. A beaver was already in the pond. I didn't try to hide from it. I threw in the branch and then went over to the chair, even moving it away from the low willow bushes so I would have a better view. From the middle of the pond, the beaver circled away from me, but over to the branch. I couldn't see it eating the branch, but I could hear the gnawing. There were also muskrats about. One swam all the way from the dam into the beaver lodge below the knoll. Then I noticed that the beaver was climbing up on the dam, I stood
expecting that it was making a scent mound. No, it was simply climbing up to eat some tall grass. Are the beavers getting tired of aspen? Then the beaver got back into the water, and took another great circle route to avoid. As I watched it circle back to the lodge, I noticed a muskrat cutting grass along the shore. When the beaver reached that point, it veered slightly toward the shore and the muskrat dove in a panic, and I didn't see it surface. The beaver didn't go directly into the lodge, it climbed up on the knoll first. Other beavers who've stayed here sometimes
liked resting up under the honey suckles there.
The beaver didn't stay long and after it dove back into the water it dove into the lodge.
The muskrats kept me busy. I think the one the beaver scared into hiding emerged 10 minutes later ferrying grass to the den in the dam. A smaller muskrat kept going back and forth from the dam to the lodge. Then it just swam out from the dam to the middle of the pond, dove a few times before swimming back. Then the beaver came out again and did two things that has kept me thinking. It climbed up under the honeysuckles on the knoll again, but this time it cut a honeysuckle. When it paused between its gnaws, it hummed. A beaver humming to itself, or was there another beaver in the lodge? Then it brought the honeysuckle out and dove with it into the lodge -- but no humming when it got inside. Then it came out again and this time swam up right before me. I saw that this was the smaller of the two beavers, the one who I thought was so anxious to belong with the other beaver. Did it hum under the knoll and take the honeysuckle into the lodge as it still made believe that the other beaver was there? And did it look up at me.... Well, if I knew where the other beaver was, I would have told it. Or was the other beaver sick, still inside the lodge? Was it trying to tell me something? The fog was enfolding the farther reaches of the pond, and as the beaver swam that way, I left.
June 11 In the morning I went down to the Deep Pond, carrying a hefty part log from the aspen trunk. Again I saw that the beaver didn't eat all I had left the night before,
another indication that there is only one beaver. I walked around the pond, trusting that when I went over the knoll what beavers were in there would come out. However, there was no rush into the water as in the past. I noticed that
the holes in the lodge had been patched,
and there were a few mud marks on the shore. I continued around the pond and when I was photographing another mud mark and a trail into the bushes off the inlet creek,
I saw a beaver floating in the pond. When I came around to the high bank, the beaver was gone, but I could photograph the mud marks there. The bigger one had an x design of sticks on top of the mud -- this is so common, I think it is by design.
Then the beaver surfaced. Last night I noticed that the beaver had one very long eyelash over each eye. The beaver swam close enough so that I could see the lashes again. The beaver didn't slap its tail, swam back and forth in front of me several times,
then surfaced in front of the lodge, looking around, before diving into it. I noticed that it had cleared one park of the bank of grass, either eating it down to the dirt or smearing enough dirt over the area to stunt the growth of the grass, or both, plus spending much time sitting there grooming, or so it looked to me.
When I got back to the road I took photos of the snapping turtle I saw in the throes of laying eggs. I first wrote "legging eggs" which is not a bad description of it dramatic digging in the dirt beside the paving.
I noticed green and yellow dots on the shell, and for a moment thought it might have been marked with paint, but soon figured that the powerful reptile had crawled throught vegetation that gave up its blossoms. Not fool
enough to touch the shell to make sure.
When we got back to the island we both had a longing to get onto the river so we kayaked over to South Bay. Leslie went to check the beaver lodge tucked behind Murray Island, where she saw no activity. She did see many perch with a line of blue around the tail, and a good complement of herons. I took my usual circuit of the bay and also saw more herons than usual; only one osprey. I was treated to the thrashing of spawning carp. I looked hard for otter signs. Somebody reported seeing an otter swimming near the boat houses on the south shore of the bay, long a favored place for otters looking for fish. I saw no signs in the growing grass of the willow lodge latrine, but there was a ball of grass up on the rock fronting the south shore of the north cove, but I couldn't see a scat nearby, nor smell anything, nor see any impressions in the grass, save for what the geese have been doing. As I paddled around I saw a family with three, two families with four, and three adults with nine goslings, and don't forget the family of with six. Plus there were eight childless geese loitering about. As always the geese avoided me, but even the angrily croaking heron could land near the goslings without giving any bird pause. I didn't see any beaver worked that impressed me as certainly
being fresh. The beavers have quite subdued many of the willows. The main trunk of the large one where the creek from Audubon Pond drains into the bay, which had been cut, seems rather dead for the moment, but it is wise not to discount the rejuvenating power of willows. I noticed only one high bush cranberry blooming,
which was disappointing.
I made this a busy day, and promptly headed off for a hike to check on the new Meander Pond lodge, see how low the inserted hose drained Audubon Pond and to illustrate my kayak tour with photos of what I could take from the shore. I went to Meander Pond first, going via the Thicket Pond dam. It was just after 2pm and I thought the beavers were be quiet allowing me to poke around and not bother them. Thicket Pond showed no sure signs of a beaver being there but there were trails through the grasses. Now it is impossible to see the lodge shielded by the buttonbushes. I was wrong about seeing the beaver put the finishing touches on its new lodge in Meander Pond. They pushed more logs and mud up on it, though not much more. All was quiet there.
I noticed yellow flowers growing along the canal leading to the lodge (a canal dredged many years ago.) It looks a bit like yellow loosestrife but seems too widespread for that shy plant.
Nearby that famous patch of blue flag iris was blooming, though the ground around it was too soggy for me to get close-ups of individual blossoms.
Perhaps the patch does not look as famous as it has in past years -- could it be that the ground is too wet? As I walked by the stump of a tree a beaver cut last fall, I did a double take. Saw dust had cascaded down over the wood chips the beavers had gnawed. I saw ants coming out of point
of wood the beaver left. Evidently they are fashioning a world in the heart wood of the now dead tree, a maple, I think.
As I walked up the rocky ridge to check on the three ironwoods the beavers have cut, I saw a beaver walk over the dam. I stopped and watched it gnaw through some grasses and then go farther down over the dam, perhaps to get some alder down there. But it came back empty handed, or empty mouthed, as it were. Then I heard some gnawing up on the ridge. I had already eyeballed the three ironwoods it had cut which left the one it had tasted, and sure enough when I climbed a few rocks higher, I saw a beaver up on its hind feet gnawing
the trunk of the thick ironwood.
I climbed higher on the rocks, which I could do quietly, but I did make a little noise. The beaver didn't notice, so I observed. I was impressed by how much body the beaver put into its gnawing. Big as its jaws are, one could say that its ironwood gnawing bite began in its tail and back legs, so vigorous were the upheaves of its whole body. As usual it bent its head this way and then that for gnawing, and reached straight up to strip bark off above the girdling.
When it stopped, it still seemed unaware of my presence. It made a leisurely descent through the grasses that obscured its progress from my view until it got back into the pond. There, it was in no panic, and climbed
back on sure to eat more grasses. I continued along the ridge so I could get a better view of the beaver, and its girdling on the big ironwood.
It wasn't until I looked down from above that the beaver finally noticed me, even slapping its tail before it swam up one of the channels of the pond.
This is another indication that these are the beavers from Shangri-la Pond because there they had often objected to me looking down on them from high on the ridge. Since I was half way up the rocks, I went up on the top of the ridge to the trail going down to Audubon Pond. The beaver that slapped its tail continued up the central channel toward the lodge. I lost track of the beaver that went below the lodge but I saw that it had brought out some leafy stalks or branches and left them behind the dam. All the while I was watching those beavers, green frogs first, and then bullfrogs made a loud chorus. I had not seen Audubon POnd for some ten days and when I left it, the park staff had just put a large tube behind the embankment to drain water over the embankment down to the outlet creek below. I feared this was preparatory to some major effort to once again clear the drain in the pond, just below the embankment, and lower the water level two or three feet, as they seem to do every year. But I was pleased to see about as much water in the pond as before, still flooding part of the causeway forming the east shore of the pond, and flooding the trail along the north shore of the pond. I took the high trail above the pond. I didn't see any recent beaver work until I got to the west shore, where the beavers are stipping the ash that they cut and that fell into the pond.
The lodge looked about the same, I think, but without the usual stripped sticks. The beavers are probably feasting on the greens not bark. The new wrinkle was that a nearby shadbark hickory seemed to be tipping over. I don't think the beavers had put much of a cut into it so the high water
might be undermining it.
After I walked by the lodge, I looked back and saw two beavers swimming in the middle of the pond. The one farther away kept slapping its tail, which didn't faze the one closer to me. I noticed that a thin tree that the
beavers are cutting, that before I might have called cherry, turned out to be a shagbark hickory, skinny but with huge leaves. Trees growing in the shade of trees of the same species can take on quite a different character. The chunky shagbark can suddenly seem demure.
When I kayaked below the otter latrine above the entrance to South Bay, I saw that something had come up and gone through the grasses. I assumed it was geese, and was right. I saw poop and down. I tried to get a photo of the leaning red oak the beavers were nipping branches off down in the bay, but I couldn't get any angle on it showing what the beavers have cut.
I could get a photo showing the sad state of the cut willow by the outlet from Audubon Pond, which, by the way, had a healthy flow of water, evidently just enough to keep the pond from getting higher.
There were two nice patches of yellow flag around the outlet, one quite the nicest I've seen around here. Bad year for blue but not for yellow. Of course, maybe the contrast of its beauty with the flotsam and jetsum
around the creek outlet makes it look more beautiful.
Duty required me to check the docking rock otter latrine, and lo and behold, I saw a small, relatively fresh scat.
and some sratching in a different place from their usual scratching, making it easier to visualize the otter.
Just in front of that action I saw rotten log that seemed to sparkle. It was alive with flies of some sort, too big to be mosquitoes, I hope.
As I walked down the shore of the bay, I saw a muskrat swimming toward the old dock at the end of the north cove, where I had seen two muskrats courting in the spring. There was also a pair of wood ducks that flew off when I got too close. I was hoping to see some of the goslings that were so prevalent just a few hours earlier when I was kayaking -- napping I guess. However, at the end of Antler Trail almost at the access road to the water tower, I scared a turkey hen and several pullets. The hen moved, really undulated more than flapped, so the photo I took was a blur. The pullets scattered but one, at least, was able to fly up and perch in a tree.