Monday, January 2, 2017

May 16 to 31, 2004

May 16 Drizzly day yesterday, and in the fifties. Today it stayed cool but the sun was bright out, and I headed off in the boat for South Bay. Just off our dock the swallows were feeding off the surface of the water, perhaps the bugs I had seen floundering a few days ago. I went to the docking rock and then up to Audubon Pond. As I expected they would, the park people stuck a pipe in the drain 

and with that usual human touch, brought the water level about two feet below what was needed to keep all their trails dry. I walked around the pond and found that on the west shore, where the muskrats and beavers had been denning, the water was so low that the escape holes and burrows were full exposed.

I assume they have moved; where I'm not sure. I think the lodge by the bench is too high and dry. The lodge in the pond should be OK, but they probably moved into the large embankment. I'll have to come in the evening to check them out. The beavers have continued to harvest the oak the park people cut down, again for no reason, and there is a pile of unnibbled sticks on the nearby shore. The beavers also took most of the branches off the pine they cut on the other side of the pond.

Of course, this is a man-made pond and once the beavers get over the frustrating chore of trying to patch the leak maybe they will adjust. Meanwhile the park people have a low pond looking like August in May. Feet will stay dry. Raccoons will like it. When I went back to the docking rock I noticed that there were two small fresh otter scats. This inspired me to row down the shoreline and I get a photo of some beaver work on the willows. It looked like they stretched up to half cut a branch that they then bent down to harvest.

Back on the shore I could see a small pile of nibbled sticks. The swallows were working the bay but getting midges that were flying about ten feet above the water. None in the water yet. One common tern came in to do some fishing near me

making several dives. I docked at the old rotten ramp in the water. As I approached it there were many explosions of mud in the water, burrowing bullheads, I assume, because I think it is too early for carp to congregate. With so much fish action in the water, as well as scats at the docking rock, I assumed I'd see some scats on the knoll above the New Pond, and I was right.

I still don't understand why the scats are always on the pond side of the knoll and not the bay side. Perhaps they can relax more back there. Many turtles on logs, but no muskrats, nor that beaver. I hiked up to the East Trail Pond which remains low and the duckweed flourishes.

There were no new signs that otters had been there. I walked along the shore toward Thicket Pond and with the grass low, I noticed that the old tree trunk where three years ago I thought that some otter pups might have disappeared into, did indeed have a good hole under it and into it.

The more I go over things, the more I think that young pups spend a good bit of time in tree trunks. However, up at the tree trunk where I saw three of them go into last year, there were no signs of otters. The pond up there is almost dry.

I saw the goose family again, and not quick to move out of the mud, which I noticed seemed to camouflage the goslings as much as grass. Their dark yellow green color blends in with grass and mud. I found some star flowers along the shore,

and the native honeysuckle we discovered there last year is about to bloom.

I didn't tarry at Thicket Pond, but the beavers seem to be busy with a fine combination of stripping bark and gnawing in.

I rowed half way out of the cove and then motored through the Narrows and over to what I now call the otter rock of Murray Island that juts up from Eel Bay. From the shore it didn't look like otters had been there, but when I got out and climbed up I saw squirts of fresh scat up on a rock, along with some dirt scraped out of a lightly vegetated fissure.

This activity was higher than what I had seen before, and the scat was bug fresh.

So otters continue to make the rounds. Still haven't gotten up at dawn. No ducks out in the river, nor cormorants. Herons rule.

May 20 yesterday we went out in kayaks to South Bay. Midges are still hovering above the water but not in it. No major new beaver work but I think one willow branch was cut since I last floated by. Only two pairs of herons, one quite noisy, no goslings; only one heron, and one duck. I saw a few perch but no schools.

Today I went off in the boat on a calm morning and at the docking rock found no fresh otter scat. Audubon Pond continues to get lower, just a few inches lower. I saw one burrow in the embankment that is still used, probably by muskrats. As I walked around I saw no sure sign of beavers, but they are probably still around. I will have to come in the evening. The geese are gone. I saw one kingbird. I headed up pond and saw no evidence that the beavers moved up there, but a new flower was out.

I saw some beaver gnawing on a elm trunk up from a canal of Meander Pond.

No sign that the beavers have been at the dam. The pond still has a good bit of water, but there seems to be no crisis at Thicket Pond. The buttonbushes are beginning to bloom bringing shade that will keep the shallow pond cooler.

The beavers have been active. One of the red oaks they had been working on is cut, but not down.

The water in the lower half of the pond is quite muddy. I took an instructive photo showing the survival of some birch while red oak and perhaps maples had been taken.

The East Trail Pond dam still leaks like a sieve. Nothing stirring in the pond during the brief time I was there, but the otters gussied up their scent mound, 

fresh scat there as well.

including some that was bee fresh.

I didn't find any scat up and over the trail and no prints in the mud heading down to Otter Hole Pond. Perhaps the markings are from a mother otter and her helper -- I doubt if pups would be scatting in an organized fashion. I need to spend some time at this pond too. I crossed the Second Swamp Pond dam and found no sign of otters there. Nor any beaver action. We have had clouds, and wind but very little rain and the ponds are starting to show it. The pond below this is very low. A bit of mud had been churned up in the channel but geese or muskrats most likely did that.

Adding to the otter mystery, I did find two squirts of fresh scat

under a cherry tree at the otter path from the upper section of the pond to the Lost Swamp Pond.

But no scat on the other side. I did see something new there, apart from a pair of geese with several goslings, a rather large Blanding's turtle out on a log.

No signs of otters elsewhere and given that I saw no fresh beaver doings, hard to believe that I saw five beavers there the other evening. I went back to the boat via Otter Hole Pond -- if we don't get some downpours the lodge will be ripe for climbing into. I saw some insect doings on a rock by either very large mosquitoes and crane flies not quite in full form. Four or five were crawling over each other 

and then two remained on top.

Down at the New Pond knoll there were no new otter scats. I had hoped to motor over to the otter rock in Eel Bay, but a south wind had kicked up and the river was rocking and rolling, so I headed home.

May 21 while working in the yard, I heard a loon calling on the river. I got to the East Trail Pond at about 6PM, seeing no otter signs along the way. Two chipmunks were contending for rights to the valley of the little creek. One paused long enough for a photo.

Not a remarkable sight, but while in some years I see them out in the snow in late February, this is the first time I've seen two together this year, and saw my first one early this month. In the rocks up on the ridge above the East Trail Pond, I saw a brilliant crop of columbine. It's developing into a good year for them.

and since they were up on the cliff, I had an easy shot looking up the drooping, but elaborate, flower, which seemed to be, judging from the photo in the midst of shaking its pollen.

I stayed at the East Trail Pond for a good forty-five minutes, and a pair of mallards was there most of that time beak down in the shallow water seeming to get all types of good things, I have seldom seen ducks feeding in so concentrated a manner. Otherwise there was little happening, and the old boardwalk was exposed,

not even the usual bounty of birds under this piney ridge. I waited for otters before I checked for fresh otter scat, keeping myself ignorant to keep up my optimism. But even when I found that there were no fresh otter scats at their current latrine, I lingered on the other side of the dam. As the sun goes down the light becomes perfect for seeing every little ripple in the water, and when the water is so shallow, I get the impression that I am seeing a record of everything occurring below. I also noticed that something had dug a hole right at the top of the bank lodge, much in the style of a groundhog or fox hole.

I also noticed how nice some of the old stumps in the pond would be for a mother otter to stow away her pups. I crossed the Second Swamp pond dam which become easier as things become drier. There was a little fresh mud on the dam, but I didn't see any beavers in the pond and it was time they were out. I think they are active in the upper pond they formed. I took a trail so that I came down on the south shore of the Lost Swamp Pond, facing the gentle northeast wind. I saw a beaver straightaway out halfway between me and the dam, eating a leafy branch, which surprised me since there are few leafy branches available along the shore there. As I walked up to the point two beavers swam out from behind the rocks, one of them small. Then I noticed another beaver up in the grass across from the point, and then another beaver causing a commotion in the water well up along the shore up pond of the point across from me. I trained my spyglass on the latter beaver and saw it extract a good bit of a small bush and then swim with it, toward me. It soon dawned on me that the beavers were using the cooler bank lodge on the shady south shore, instead of the lodge by the dam which they had been using which is completely exposed to the sun. The embowered beaver swam right below me

and dove but I don't think it took the greenery into the lodge -- a sign of more babies, but anchored it in the water outside the lodge, from where the small beaver had come. Indeed, as the beaver brought the bush across the pond, a little beaver swam up behind and followed for a while. The big beaver also noticed me and started splashing, which, as far as I could tell, caused no alarm. Two beavers floated like logs and trained their eyes on me, two other beavers swam off. Meanwhile I was seeing signs of two beavers way down at the southeast end of this huge pond. What I had was a confusion of beavers, so confusing I had to study every ripple to make sure otters weren't involve. But when otters confuse the pond, the ripples spread like a percussion section gone wild. Of course, dark ended this theater. I lingered by the lodge

hoping to get a photo of the little one looking up at me earnestly. I did see it eat a bit of the fresh bush. Little beavers are most sensitive and when my camera made a noise it swam off. Behind me I could see a bit of their gnawing on an old tree,

and mayflowers in bloom.

Crossing the Big Pond dam only one beaver came out to splash me. They have mudded almost the length of the long dam

and the water in this spring fed pond stays high. A whip-poor-will sang up a far hill, and on the ridge I inspired a porcupine to climb down a small tree and disappear into the dark.

May 23 a long front is guiding a series of storms over us, dampening our days. I try to sneak out for brief forays through the ponds, well knowing that the critters don't care. And now there is an axis through the area I watch that I fancy can briefly tell me much that I am interested in. By going along the South Bay trail, over the New Pond knoll and then up to the East Trail Pond dam, I can tell if the otters have been at the end of South Bay, perhaps gone up into the ponds, and if any beaver has patched the many leaking dams on the northwest side of the grand Second Swamp Pond. So I did that this afternoon, briefly, and discovered no signs of otters and no dam patching. Since the only new sensations were heard from well up in the canopy of green leaves -- a scarlet tanager very high up, I'm sure, I had the chance of completing the hike without taking any video or photographs. I thought of running the camcorder to capture the unceasing squeaking of a bird high in the pines, but I knew the effect wouldn't come across. This was as manic as a chipmunk in a state but too high in the tree and too high in timbre. Then I saw blades of grass just below the East Trail Pond dam move contrary to the light wind. Then I got a glimpse of the furry brown lemming -- two glimpses but was able to get a video. I've never seen one so big. I decided to check out the middle pond of Otter Hole pond which in other years I've fancied that the otters had used as a nursery. I saw a vireo making its incessant but pleasant song, and I flushed a woodcock, but the only photo I could stand and take was of the Ur creek now restored for about thirty yards

thanks to the neglect of the beavers.

May 25 more rain and I went out along my axis again, but this time looped around for a full tour. Again there were no otter signs, not even grass matted down that I could attribute to a low slung animal moving through. I did see a catbird. Judging from where birds sing is daunting. I was trying to get a bead on a grosbeak, looking high into the green, and then it blew by me about five feet over my head. I could tell by the rush of water coming out of the New Pond that the dams remain neglected. I thought an otter might be attracted to the rushing water, but none evidently were. I walked along South Bay up to the docking rock. Two childless geese flew over to honk at me. Only one mallard out in the bay. There was nothing on the docking rock, though I find it curious that the geese don't poop there. Nothing had been through the grass either. Up at Audubon Pond, which has a nice heft to it again thanks to the rain, there was a goose family, the gosling half grown.

A childless pair was also there and kept honking at me, though I think toward the end, the male at least was honking at an echo. Finally they flew off leaving the goslings to eat grass and splash in peace. Judging from the stripped sticks here and there, I think a beaver is still in the pond, but no sign of where it is lodging. I saw a muskrat briefly in the next pond up. I flushed one duck from the Short-cut Trail Pool (once a great pond) and a few more from Meander Pond, and most from Thicket Pond. I sat at Meander Pond which seemed to be percolating with life in the water -- frogs, I imagine rather than fish, but no critters appeared. Moving from it I did see a doe posing which I take as a sign a fawn might be around. But the grounds there were quite soggy. I didn't find one. Almost all the beaver activity, judging by the muddy water, is up in Thicket Pond. I crossed the little dam noting how the beavers almost used a downed oak to help firm it up.

The red oaks they worked on in the winter have not been cut. And the red oaks they worked on in the spring are cut but hung up. They have extended a canal nicely along the northern edge of the pond,

and they took out some small trees at the end of the watershed. Maybe some of these beavers will go down and colonize the East Trail Pond and below. A stand of maples by a little pool may lure them on.

I walked up the ridge between the East Trail Pond and Shangri-la Pond. Not as many birds up there as usual, and down below Shangri-la has more water than the upper East Trail Pond, but other than two geese in the latter, I saw no activity in either. I dutifully went down to the old otter latrine above the lodge in the East Trail Pond

and found nothing, except some delicate cordyalis plants. I often debate with myself over the meaning of the remains once beavers leave an area, especially this: is the loss of red oaks and swamp white oaks too great, since they will be a long time growing back. On the ridge above the lodge I saw this small white oak, cut last year, sporting this finery.

Going back along the ridge I noticed a luxurious stand of false solomon's seal.

The lower East Trail Pond was quiet except for that buzzing bird again. Two heron flew high above it. No scats. There was a hint of skunk smell along the dam. I stood above the Second Swamp Pond lodge and there's no indication that beavers are still there. Even last summer, I think the beavers enjoyed staying up pond when they could. As I walked along the north shore there seemed to be no fresh work, though I've lost tracks of all the trees they had been working on. This time of year, one looks for a pile of little stripped sticks to prove a beaver had spent some time at a place. However, they are definitely keeping the upper dam up, more fresh mud and grass. It must be higher, and at one gap, an eclectic display of patching material.

From the dam, there is no sign of what goodies they are getting from the pond above, a mystery of grasses and bushes.

Up at the Lost Swamp Pond dam all was quiet and secure. A heron flew off from the point across the pond. No ducks or geese about. I found no otter scats, no trails, and if there is no mother too busy with babies to keep up her marks (if they do that at all) then there are no otters around. A beaver did make a nice little mark along the north shore

-- a bit away from where it would be more telling, so I picture one of the small beavers doing it. I saw some stunning cinnamon ferns, I think.

To get home, I took an old way through the woods that I often took when I wasn't such a stickler for crossing beaver dams. Ten years ago I found a fawn in this area, not today. I crossed above the Middle Pond, no sign of a beaver coming down this far. Up on the ridge I saw a small orange and black butterfly

and then some deer antlers with a slug sucking what life remained out of it.

and I noticed the choke cherry trees were blooming.

May 27 I headed off in the kayak a little before noon, taking advantage of a rare sunny day. The remains of midges litter all still parts of the river, especially South Bay. Herons are also much more prevalent than last time I was out. They hold their position longer than usual too, perhaps arising from increased competition. Only one tern fishing in the bay. I thought I heard an osprey but didn't see it. The carp are also about. I saw two jump up out of the water. Most of the thrashers were in small grassy areas away from the end of the coves. Turtles of all sizes were sunning themselves, and I think I saw one snapper up sunning on the reeds. When I moved by they scampered into the water, but some were already back out when I rowed back five minutes later. I started a heron by the old dock that was breast deep in the water. It seemed to appreciate my not paddling up to him, giving it time to dry its feathers. There were so many herons about that I saw two trails of their white poop in the water. As I headed up the north shore of the bay, I heard rustling in the grass, and then some pleasant high pitched humming. To my surprise it came from a small porcupine bumbling along the shore. The humming, I think for pleasure, to itself, lasted about ten seconds. In several places it crept down and then leaned into the water. I first thought it was to get some wet veggies, but I noticed that the shore is mostly rocky. I had the binoculars and still couldn't be sure what it was getting, save that it wasn't the great gobs that I've seen porcupines fish out of ponds. It finally noticed me and climbed half way up a tree. I had noticed some flying bugs with long black wings, that looked like the insect I fished out of the drink a week or so ago, save that the wings were much bigger. Then when I turned to head home, I startled a black bird pecking at the end of a willow branch over the water. As it flew off, four of these black winged bugs fell from its beak. I fished one out for a photo. I didn't see any signs of otters, strain though I might to see bullhead parts, nor any fresh beaver work.

At 5:30 I hiked to the ponds to check for otter scat and enjoy the beautiful evening, though clouds were moving in. Grass is long everywhere now, but I didn't see any fawns. Many deer now have their red coats. When I got to the creek coming down to South Bay from the New Pond, which was rushing enough, I thought, to invite bullhead to make a run up at, I was startled to find a large bullhead on the trail in the grass about a yard away from the rushing water.

It had some blood on it, but I couldn't be sure if that was from its struggle over the gravelly path, or from the bird or other critter that dropped it there. Nothing fled or flew away as I approached. It looked like it was bulging with eggs, and was still alive, so I kicked it gently back into stream, where it lay gasping. I pushed it further in and it righted itself enough to go with the flow back into South Bay. Now, where were the otters? The trail up to the New Pond knoll looked a bit mussed up. However, I didn't see any fresh scat, though one dry scaly smear struck as being new, and there was a bug on it.

But with all the moisture we've had, it must just be an old scat that looks different in the fresh green grass. I headed up to the Lost Swamp Pond to check on the beavers there, ruing the depleted ponds all the way --save for the Second Swamp Pond, of course. No beaver out there, as I expected. I did see a bearberry on the way. Just before I got to the north slope of the Lost Swamp Pond to check for otter scats, I saw a bat flying about catching the many bugs.

I seldom see one so early. Then I saw that the north slope scent mounds had been rearranged

and there was scaly scat that looked moist enough to be fresh,

and up the old trail, I thought I could see evidence of a critter going up it. On the other side going down to the Second Swamp Pond I saw a small but fresh scat.

Over my shoulder I noticed that the Lost Swamp Pond beavers were out but I wanted to see a beaver in the upper Second Swamp Pond so I sat on a rock between them, and in a few minutes saw a beaver come down out of the grasses, and then over the dam before I could get a photo. Pretty good indication that the beavers are denning in the upper pond. I waited for another beaver and soon saw ripples but it proved to be wood ducks with only two or three ducklings. I heard some scratching behind but that proved to be from chipmunks, scurrying everywhere making up for lost time. A deer also snorted at me. Then I went back to count the Lost Swamp Pond beavers, once again I could see wakes all over some too far away to be sure if beavers or muskrats made them. I moved over to the rolling area, forcing a geese family with four goslings, growing nicely, to ease its way out into the pond. A beaver soon came to check me out, just as two other beavers headed toward the southeast section of the pond. Although these three beavers came from the area around the bank lodge on the south shore, I am pretty certain two beavers came out of the lodge by the dam. The mid-size beaver approaching me splashed which gave the beavers going up pond pause. A large beaver angled over a bit and then gave me a louder splash. I didn't see beavers for a bit and worried that I might have actually alarmed them. Then the baby beaver swam over right up to me. After it left a beaver that was a little bit bigger checked me out.

Meanwhile, the flickers were about and much excited, I think because I was close to their nesting hole. A heron flew high above me, as if it too enjoyed the higher, less humid sky. I went home the way I came, with an eye out for beavers in the Second Swamp Pond, but found none.

May 29 I headed off to the ponds on a cool, blustery, sunny afternoon, tiptoeing through fawn territory but seeing no sign of any. And again no signs of otters at the little causeway along the South Bay trail. No water running on that creek, by the way. And the flow down from the New Pond has diminished - no bullhead there today. Up on the knoll I found fresh squirts of scat

around a hole dug in the leaves. This latrine is a little off the trail the otters have been using, just a yard off. I sat briefly looking at the New Pond which didn't reveal any secrets. Then I noticed that I should be able to cross the pond shrunk to the old creek on the old boards that made the trail years ago. There was a lot of exposed mud and I saw no signs that an otter had been through, which helps confirms what I've been thinking, that the otter scats on the knoll after coming up out of South Bay and then it goes back there. No sign of otter at their old latrine on beaver point, and no sign at Beaver Point Pond dam. The meadow behind is a luxuriant green.

I went on the old board way to the shore and then up to Otter Hole Pond, still woefully low, but I sat after a heron flew out of it to see what I might see. Two small birds flew over me and one with a bluish tint fluttered down almost like a butterfly. When in flew off from the grasses and lit on a tree in the sun, I saw that it was a bluebird.

I haven't seen them here in a long while. It flew off to the west, and then an oriole flew out of a tree to the south. Meanwhile, I heard a scarlet tanager singing in the trees behind me. I figured seeing that would make a triple crown of sorts, seeing blue, orange and red in such quick succession. It didn't take me long to spot the beauty behind me. Then when I climbed the ridge on my way to the East Trail Pond, I flushed a turkey from the grasses just above my high trail. I hadn't walked that way to the pond for awhile and I was struck at the amount of unfinished work the beavers left and the nice mid-size trees they had tasted but didn't cut. What prompts a beaver to stop work and move on, much less what prompts a colony to pull up stakes, remains a mystery to me. No new otter scats around but I sat under one of the big pines, out of the chilly wind and in the warm sun to see what I might see. The first novelty that I could contemplate was a mayflower stripped of all its leaves.

The goose at the other end of the pond seemed to be without family or mate. Just when I was thinking of looking for a Blanding's turtle I saw a turtle submerge out near the lodge. Then I noticed two small yellowish brown ducks, one at least with a slight crest behind the head, skimming the water like a surface feeder then now and then diving into and swimming under the water. They flew off before I could get a photo and the short video I got before they flew off doesn't show their diving routine. Then a heron flew in from high above and, rare for a heron, didn't see me below. It landed on a log in the pond and immediately seemed interested in what was swimming below.

Indeed I saw two shiners jump out of the water not far from the first. After some awkward teetering on the log trying to gain the perfect angle of attack, it waded into the water, but unfortunately soon went out of camera range. Then I studied the black birds, the true geniuses of the ponds at this time of year with their sharp eye for bugs that I can't even see.

For all of us who can't swim in them these birds know the ponds best. As I got up to go, I scanned again for Blanding's turtles and sure enough I saw a good sized one on a log on the other side of the lodge. Over at the Second Swamp Pond I was back in the wind watching barn swallows and the dazzling ripples waiting in vain for muskrats to come out of the lodge. A large doe harvesting pond grasses across the pond diverted my attention,

especially how her ears kept turning in the wind, to glean, I suppose, any threatening sound. Then I saw another doe behind her. No sign of any regard for fawns. When I moved, the one in the pond ran off. Crossing the upper dam is so difficult now that my eyes were on it and not in the pond so I missed seeing what dove a few yards into the pond with enough umph for me to think it might be a beaver. I saw a bouquet of cut grass on the dam.

Two years ago I would attributed that to a muskrat but last year I saw a beaver harvest just the same and take it into a lodge to feed babies. I suspect the colony moved up here to raise a family in complete privacy. I kept an eye out but the critter didn't materialize which is more characteristic of muskrats. Up at the Lost Swamp Pond, after two herons flew out, and a tern disappeared, I settled down leaning on a rock out of the wind with a view of the lodge. Then an osprey that had been perched almost above me flew off. One need a hundred eyes in the spring. A starling lit on a dead tree high above me and entertained me with queer sounds. Then out in the pond the scudding ripples materialized into something which turned out to be a muskrat which seemed to be up to the old muskrat trick of swimming a mile to get the same cut of grass that it could get by going on shore just above its burrow. Here I suppose is a sensitivity to policing territory, but by this hour of the day one would think a muskrat could be assured that all was secure. There was an equivocal scat near the rocks I was on -- too tubular to say for certain it came from an otter. And the holes that I blamed otters for digging last year, were open without the smearing of scat that the otters left last year. Digging holes is another popular spring pastime that I guess many critters enjoy. Once again I found fresh scat on the north slope trail,

this time exclusively on the Lost Pond side, and a little bit more of it. That prompted me to walk around the pond a bit, check other latrines and scope the long end of the pond and the other faraway lodge favored by otters, but no sign of them. The Big Pond dam continues to grow and the beavers have cut and brought honeysuckle branches up to it.

I didn't see many signs of harvesting except at the end of the dam behind my usual perch. One blue flag iris is out

and others are on the way.

I only sat briefly not expecting much to come out into the teeth of the wind. I flushed two deer from under a bush near the pond, and then saw two more deer in the woods, but no fawns.

May 31 just as a rain clouds slowly moved in, I took a tour of South Bay in the kayak. The swallows were picking bugs off the water. Then I bothered about four heron, two on the shore and two on logs or boards in the water. Not as much fish action today, explosions below still, but not so much thrashing in the grass. And since the clouds had moved in there were fewer turtles out. Coming back out of the cove one small fish in the shallows jumped clean out of the water, flying for about three feet, too small for a carp. Around in the other cove a fisherman on shore said he had caught two dinners worth of bass that he had to let go since they're out of season. So perhaps the flying fish was a bass. I keep studying the roots pulled up and I found some fresher ones that puzzled me because they didn't look gnawed. Then I found one almost tied in knots. For a moment I saved it, until I realized that it had merely been wrapped around a boat propeller. No signs of otters along the shore. When I got up to the docking rock the grass looked mussed, and I got out to check, but it was probably done by geese. I saw two groups coddling the goslings. As well as one mallard with a line of chicks. I wore some old shoes so I went up to check Audubon Pond where I still see some freshly stripped twigs, but no sign of where the beaver might be lodging. And no major work that I can see. I think the muskrats shifted to the lodge the beavers abandoned. Indeed I saw a muskrat along the east shore of the pond, and much muskrat gleaning, I think, in the now very shallow pond on the east side of the causeway. Heading home in the kayak, I heard a tern squawk and then saw a cormorant take off below. The tern continued to fly over it but they were still too far apart for me to suggest that the tern was trying to bug the bigger cormorant.