Thursday, April 30, 2009

May 1 to 7 , 2007

May 1 yesterday I had a chance to check out the blooms on our land. A few bloodroots have spread down from the ridge to the valley, much to the liking of a ghostly looking spider.

Up on the ridge where they are usually lush, they seem shy about blooming,

though there were some striking beauties there.

Down in the vally, along the mossy ridge, the heptica are even peeping out from under rocks,

and the trillium seems a bit behind schedule.

Today, back on the island, I headed off for South Bay at 4 pm. Going up the ridge I saw some bodacious stalks seemingly using erector set techology to control rapid growth

I wondered if it was mayapple, and made a mental note to check the mayapple patch around the Lost Swamp Pond, which, to get ahead of my story, I did. And the plant didn't match the old familiar mayapples.

It will be easy to keep an eye on the strange plant and see what it will become. Once again I enjoyed my new trail over the ridge and thanks to going off it a few feet, confused by its getting green, I found a deer antler -- thick
bottomed and woody brown like the pair of antlers I found along this trail in the winter.

So I named this trail, Antler Trail. I usually see deer along it, as I did today. I'm not sure why these antlers are thicker than what I usually find. Better browse from the lawns of Thousand Island Park? I got down to the South Bay trail and two herons flew off together. I veered off to check the willow latrine out on the peninsula. I bumped into a porcupine about eye level up a tree, brandished my camera and snapped away, especially when I got closer and saw there was another porcupine on the forked trunk.

Both climbed higher but not with the usual panic -- not that porcupines ever panic. As I went on to the willow lodge I looked back to verify that they were climbing an ash tree, which porcupines are not supposed to eat. One porcupine looked smaller so I debated whether it was last year's Mom and baby, or, despite mating season being in February, two old porcupines that couldn't get enough of each other. Unlike other winters, I didn't see porcupines out browsing the trees on the peninsula this year. Last time I was at the willow lodge, I noticed a little hole in the ground beside the lodge. Now the hole is bigger and I can see how it cuts down the side of a willow root. No idea who is using it.

Judging from the poop, the raccoons have been most comfortable here. No beaver nibblings or cuttings. I saw a few nipped willow boughs, so the porcupines may have been out here. The spot where I saw otter scats last time I was here had been scratched up a bit, but I couldn't see any new scats. The water in the marsh is much higher -- again, I heard a splash that sounded like a big fish swimming off.

As I headed back to the porcupines, I saw a black spot where the trunks of the ash tree divided a few feet off the ground. Ash trees rarely blemish until the woodpeckers drill holes for ants, so I investigated and found a baby
porcupine clawed still against the trunks, head shy and quills extended

I stepped back far enough to show how far up the parents were.

One should hide to see what would happen next but raising a baby porcupine must be daunting enough without me around. I headed around to the old dock otter latrine. One heron flew off, croaking, as well as a pair of ducks. Nothing new at the latrine. I headed up to Thicket Pond to see how those beavers are doing. I approached by going up the slight rock ridge to the southwest of the pond. There I saw two stately shad bush trees cut down -- just before they bloomed.

I soon saw that there was at least one beaver in the pond bringing up soft vegetation to eat from the pond bottom. I waited to see who else was out, and saw a beaver on the shore behind a birch log, another up pond, and another swimming over toward the north end of the dam. These beavers generally let me get close, so I eased down the rocks toward the pond, pausing to admire some flicker feathers on the rock.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a beaver stripping bark off the big downed red oak trunk, a picture I had wanted to get for sometime, but the beaver hustled back into the pond. The three beavers swimming in the pond seemed somewhat
aimless so I concentrated on the beaver behind the birch log on the shore. Beavers rarely bother the birches around here, and I soon saw that this beaver was eating the fresh green grass.

Another beaver came up briefly to join it, but I think it sensed that I was around. A small beaver splashed its tail in the pond, and this was a rare instance when a little one's alarm elicited some reactions, but not from the big beaver behind the birch. I got rather close to the beaver and a small beaver in the pond looked intently at the scene. The beaver I approached sniffed the air a couple times.

I think young beavers are much more alert than the older beavers but evidently the little guy watching had learned how pointless it was to slap out an alarm when an old beaver was enjoying fresh green grass. Finally I made the step
that sent it back into the pond. It moved quickly but without any tail slapping,

all to show the little beaver that it wasn't an alarming situation at all. Well, watching all this, I had missed my muskrat hour at the Lost Swamp Pond so I hurried off first checking the beaver work below the Second Swamp Pond. Nothing
seemed fresh, all the ash trees they had worked on were still standing. The pooled water was not muddy. I saw some rippling in the water behind the dam but it proved to be from ducks. Where beavers should have concentrated their nibbling there were hardly any stripped sticks.

However as I walked up along the knoll to check the otter latrine there, I saw a log floating along the shore with a reddish hue, bleeding as it were from the beavers' gnawing. Certainly beavers still come down here. The water is
high and this dam needs attention if it is to continue to serve. Near the reddish wood, I saw a rock topped with muskrat poop.

I'll have to cool my heels here and see what is going on. But the Lost Swamp Pond called. I saw no more beaver work until I got to the Upper Second Swamp Pond dam. I could still easily walk on top of the dam, but as I did I noticed that there were no more leaks in the north end of the dam and I saw dollops of fresh mud showing that the beavers have been attentive to this dam. However, there was no fresh nibbling. Now the south end of the dam leaks, rather badly from two holes deep in the base of the dam, which can be tough to patch. There was mud on top of the dam, a beaver showing it had at least given some thought to the problem.

I had camera ready as I walked up to the Lost Swamp Pond dam, but the pairs of ring necked ducks were too quick and I didn't get a good photo as they paddled and then flew off.

Then remarkably for this time of year, all was perfectly quiet save for the distant keerees of redwinged blackbirds. The frogs have been calling later, but usually by 6pm, you hear something. I eventually heard one peeper as I
headed home. There was more confusion at the otter latrine by the dam, a few black smears on a rock.

Could be otter scat, but not the way I like to see it. Nothing new at the mossy cove latrine. I waited a half an hour for muskrats to appear, but all was quiet, what an unwanted novelty, blame the full moon. I did note the fresh work on the dam, but this dam too leaks, a higher leak but still hard to tame.

As I walked down to the Big Pond dam I saw a muskrat's wake crossing the wakes of the fleeing ducks. The muskrat swam over to the lodge where I thought I saw a remnants of another wake. Then I saw a wake far out in the pond heading toward for me, though, of course, I thought it was another muskrat looking for love. Then I saw it was a beaver, a small one, heading to the dam. Some of the reddish fur on its back was still dry. About 20 yards from the dam, it noticed me then swam to my left which would get the wind directly behind me. My smell did cause it to panic, no tail slaps, but it did swim away from

I continued across the dam, perhaps a few more cattail stalks along it, but no major beaver leftovers. If the beavers tried to patch the north end of the spillover, they did a terrible job.

However, the central portions had been well mudded over.

May 3 yesterday we saw the red trillium at the foot of the ridge that faces the garden

The white trillium along the road is glorious but I prefer the beauties poking up on the ridges. This one was on the little knoll above the Deep Pond.

There it is joined by dutchmen's britches, spring beauties, and like almost everywhere else, trout lilies. This has been the best spring for them.

I sat beside the Deep Pond for an hour in the mid afternoon just to see if anything was happening. Several frogs looked at me. There were no dragonflies, no turtles, and no little fish at my feet. No signs of beavers or muskrats, though the latter must be here. Then when I crossed the inlet, I saw the
rapid retreat of fifty or so small dark fish retreating from the last fall of the inlet creek back to the safety of the pond. There were a few stragglers that I caught on video. I didn't see any above the fall, but as I walked back to the edge of the pond yet a couple more swam down the creek. They are hard to see in the riffles so perhaps these laggards had actually been the most advanced upstream.

This morning the river looked relatively calm, our neck of the island being protected from a north wind. I headed off in the motorboat and had to first slow down by the rock in front of the headland. I saw a pair of buffleheads by the shore fly off and then saw a pair of mergansers by the rock. Two Caspian terns were on the rock but by the time I got my camera out, the terns were in flight and the mergansers swimming away.

Such a proud looking animal. Eventually they flew off. Rounding into the bay, I slowed down to check out more bufflehead pairs, as well as at least one more merganser pair. I also saw a strange looking duck but by the time I focused on it, twas gone. I thought it might have been a hooded mergansers that dove into the water. Always a nice moment waiting for a duck to surface, but none did. I got off on the rock that forms part of the north shore of the peninsula, which was easy to manage because the water level is high. There was no sign of any activity on or along the two large interior rocks. Then I walked along the rock shore, as usual, cutting toward the middle to avoid the thickest tangle of honeysuckles, and then turning back to the rock I saw scrapping in the grass and moss

and then toward the shore I saw a generous scat with a fresh baked-this-morning smell.

There were two smaller scats, both juicy, one rather dark and the other with light brown liquid floating in it.

There was also some older scats. I thought these scats too wet and iconic, if you will, to poke through now. It looked like some crayfish parts in the larger scat. I think the meals of the moment here are crayfish and bullheads, that
said, when I went slowly out of the bay I went over a large school of otter-bite-sized perch swimming into the bay. I took a photo as rowed away from the latrine, showing what a nice place it is for an otter. One year I saw the mother leave her one pup up on the rock for about ten minutes while she fished. Safe

I checked the latrine above South Bay and saw nothing new and with the grass growing so green hardly saw the old scats. I went through the Narrows and then beelined toward Quarry Point of Picton Island. I scared up two small flocks of
ducks, and didn't see too many pairs here, perhaps because here the cold wind had full play. Temperature during the day gets up into the 60s, but it is dipping below freezing at night, despite the warmth of the full moon. From the water it looked like there had been some scrapping on the rock covered with old pine needles.

and when I got up on it I saw a small gray scat.

As I continued off to the grassy part of the latrine, I think I was seeing some new scats but they all looked old and dry. I crossed high on the rocks to get to the latrine at the point of the point, where I had seen fresh scats and dry scent mounds the last time I was here. I saw several dry, gray scats where I am certain there were none last time -- what, maybe a week ago. So the otters have been here, but these dry, sunny, windy days take a toll on what little ability I have to sense the age of scats.

After working in the garden at the land, I remembered to take a photo of the brain growing right behind our house

Back on the island, I headed off to check the ponds at a little after 4pm. I could have walked across the golf course, and, of course, antler trail beckoned. But I decided to go to the ridge via the meadow behind the golf course to see how wet it was and to see if the deer were digging down to get the elecampane roots. They don't seem to be doing that this year at our land, but there are many more deer on the island. The meadow wasn't that wet, and I did find several holes that the deer dug, but they didn't seem to find the usual juicy roots.

Once I got up the ridge I bumped into a blossoming shad bush. I took a photo but it is difficult to capture their delicate beauty. Up on the plateau I saw several blossoming shad bushes

I also saw that the webworms were already squirming inside their huge cocoon. I suppose they have to wait a little longer to break out. The leaves aren't worth devouring yet.

Trying to get a photo of the webworms and midges caught in a spider's web, I bent the trees branch down, and it broke. Though leaves were budding, with webworms aboard the tree was cutting losses, I guess. I found the old deer trails through the bush on the plateau. I was looking for signs of spring, like a towhees call, which we hear frequently at our land, but instead I saw signs of late winter, a rather fresh deer leg bones.

I sat briefly at the Big Pond dam, where nothing was stirring. So I hurried on to the Lost Swamp Pond where I hoped to continued my spring study of muskrats. Today, to get out of the north wind, the ringed necked huddled along the
north shore of the pond. Though far away, they still flew off as I found my rock perch. Once again, all was rather quiet, and I began developing a theory that all the activity I saw before was a part of courtship. As the female muskrat gather food in prominent places, the male swam about showing her all the territory he claimed as he marked log after log. So that rather being a constant presence, the muskrats concealed themselves once the business of courting was done. I was so taken with this
minimalizing spring, or breaking it down to its essential, that I noticed that the gander protecting the lodge was gone, and with spyglass in hand I thought I could see no goose on the lodge. So with spring apparently over at the Lost Swamp Pond, I started making a list of other things to check on, and then a muskrat swam from the peninsula to the lodge. Five minutes later another muskrat swam from the peninsula to the lodge. This muskrat seemed larger, a distinction I had noticed the other times I watched. Then that larger muskrat came out, swam a bit to the northeast,
dove down for some grass and swam back to the lodge. Well, still no display, still no marking. Then the smaller muskrat swam out of the lodge toward its favorite log a little to the right below me. As I videoed her progress, for I think she is the female, I noticed in the corner of my eye that a large bird was flying down
preparing to land in the pond. I got my camcorder on the descending heron that was heading right for the muskrat. I once read a report from a somewhat reliable source of a heron flying off with a muskrat in its beak. The heron landed on a sunken log
and the muskrat dove. To escape? Well, she then surfaced as I've often seen her do, on her favorite log below me, and began nibbling the grass she had collected. The heron watched, and the gander suddenly swam down from the east end of the pond to check on things. I quietly tried to get my camera out, but my least motion sent the heron off. The muskrat continued eating. Then she dove off the log a couple of times, and then swam to a log closer to me, and nibbled the grass she collected from her dives on the way.

It's always a pleasure to see theories shot down within a few minutes of their formulation. The muskrat swam to shore below me, where I couldn't see her, and then the larger muskrat swam out of the lodge heading for the favored log, but he swam right by it, toward the far south shore of the pond, where he walked and marked a long log near the shore. I had been cherishing the notion that one of the virtues of watching muskrats was that unless I was right in their face they wouldn't pay any attention to my presence. Unfortunately, as I twisted
about on my rock perch to see the other muskrat, the one below me noticed my carryings-on. She reacted just like a sapient beaver, swimming slowly below me sniffing the air. Then she even did what I call the beaver's floating log routine, floating flat on the water below me and not moving, save that this muskrat improved on the effect by curling her body, a bit like a question mark. Meanwhile the muskrat marking the south shore didn't pay any attention to her or me. Then she swam back to the lodge. I stretched my legs and saw that the goose was on her nest on the top of the lodge. So my insistence of moving the story of spring along got its comeuppance on all fronts. I walked around the lodge, and saw no signs of otters or beavers, but I did see some whirligig beetles, not bunched up yet, each swirling in its own

One of the other things I decided to do was check the beavers' winter lodge in the Upper Second Swamp Pond. I crossed the well tended Lost Swamp Pond dam, and then walked down to see what appeared to be an abandoned beaver lodge. It was all but deflated. The detour did allow me to see the first king bird. The thought of this beaver colony abandoning the island was hard to take. So I checked the dams. There was no work on the upper dam, but the Second Pond dam definitely had fresh mud on it, as only beavers could deliver.

So they remain in the area; I just have to figure out where their lodge is. Over the thirteen years I've watched this colony every couple years I lose track of them until their new lodge gets big enough to see. My wildest hope is that they will renew their interest in Otter Hole Pond which they had once maintained a magnificent pond that flooded over several smaller ponds. The light on the rock south of the dam was perfect for my annual spring moss photo, a beauty that no photo can capture.

It began to get cold, so I didn't expect to hear frogs, but I did hear one grays tree frog. Today, as I went back home, there was no evening action of the Big Pond, save that there was a cloud of mud raised in the water behind the south end of the dam.

I waited briefly to see if a muskrat would appear, but generally I only see large bottom dwelling fish raise mud like that.

May 5 yesterday, after moving much manure into the garden, I communed with the Teepee Pond, watching shiners dimple the brown water while one whirligig beetles cherished the illusion that it was riding herd over them. One shiner mistook him for a meal. That's the last bug I would ever want to swallow. Wending my way back to the cabin I noticed another side of spring. The prickly ash that the beavers cleared, much to the relief of my clothes and skin, is coming back to life.

I tried to get a photo of the blue cohosh.

Not the most striking flower. More striking is the dull green color it contributes to the spring floor. But what could compete with trillium for spring brightness.

I got back to the island in time to head off for my usual 4 pm hike. I seem to have cut my territory into three parts, and today I essayed the middle: antler trail, willow lodge, Thicket Pond, or that was the plan.
Today the antlers were overshadowed by a stunning clump of shad bushes blooming right where the plateau drops down to stickers

I tried again for a closeup of the blossoms and did fairly well, though the photo makes these early bloomers seem shy, which is a contradiction in terms.

We have not had rain in a while and have had plenty of sun and dry northeast wind. The mosses on the plateau are the first to shrink and turn crusty

No deer today along the trail. I headed out to the willow latrine skirting one human bullhead fisherman in a boat along the shore. I wondered if the porcupines might have moved to the willow, and then noticed that that would be a mighty exposed area to browse, no leaves out yet.

When I got to the twin ash tree trunks where I saw the porcupines the other day, one porcupine quickly shinnied up one of the trunks to the nearest crotch of trunks.

I poked around and saw the baby on the ground and it tried to climb up a sapling

when I came closer it backed onto the ground and scrambled (rather slowly actually, it is a porcupine after all) to the base of the ash trunks where it hid the other day. Then I couldn't get a look at its eyes. Today, it got a look at me.

I continued out to the willow latrine where there was absolutely nothing new but in the water I saw a ribbon of white that looked more like perch eggs than package wrapper. Next time I'm on the water I'll have to check
this out. One spring the water just off the north shore of South Bay was rather beribboned.

When I got back to the ash trunks, the baby porcupine was on the ground again, still looking at me.

There was nothing new at the otter latrines. I headed up to Thicket Pond, into the east wind and, if the beavers were out, I anticipated good viewing. But they weren't out, which gave me the opportunity of admiring their
recent work. They are stripping the maple they most recently cut down, and tasting a nearby clump. Probably red maples which beavers don't find very tasty.

I have been explaining their piling more mud on a dam that, being at the head of the two watersheds, need not hold back any floods, by suggesting that they are just dredging their pond deeper. Then why are they
firming the dam with large logs and bark?

Beavers have standards they keep no matter the local situation. Well, except when all it takes is a push of brush, which is what they did to keep water from finding a channel on a path going down to Meander Pond.

I sat on the red oak they have been debarking. Since not a beaver was stirring I decided to move on but not without taking another photo of the red oak trunk, this time fancying that the reddish underbark reminds me of how
reddish the fur of the beavers can seem at this time of year, especially the young one's.

Going around the pond I did see evidence of their dredging and now that the water has overflowed the old channels, I wonder if they are dredging the once dry side of the old channel walls, turning a canal into another reach of the pond.

As I studied that, I heard and then saw my first oriole of the year.

The beavers haven't picked up on the work along the canal that had been their principle winter work. I expected to see the water high along their back dam, that keeps the pond from running down to the East Trail Pond, but didn't. Testimony, I think, to how much mud they've piled onto that dam.

I heard a few comb frogs and down from Meander Pond a few leopard frogs. With time on my hands, I decided to check for fresh beaver work below the Second Swamp Pond dam. I checked the old otter route from the East Trail Pond over the slight ridge to the old den below the moss covered stumped along the creek down to Otter Hole Pond. I saw a semblance of a trail going up, but known going over, even though down below I startled a ground hog who paused long then hurried to the entrance of its hole at the base of a rock. At first glance I didn't see any fresh beaver work below the dam and I repaired to the big rock at the north end of the dam to ponder that, and ponder my future. I didn't wear my boots because the route I planned to take is now dry. I could back track and stay dry, but the Upper Second Swamp Pond dam is rather easy to cross, so I saw a beeline to home form in my mind -- of course, it would entail looping around the east end of the Second Swamp Pond and the west end of the Lost Swamp Pond, but that's a mind for you,
convoluted. Of course, that route is encumbered with history ancient and modern, but thanks to the strong east wind I was pretty confident there would be no theatre with ringed neck ducks and muskrats, and likely nothing in the otter latrines, so that
leg which usually takes almost two hours could be done in a half hour. But before I left, I checked below the Second Swamp Pond dam again and this time I saw that a beaver had done more gnawing on one ash, taking bark down to the ground,

and a bit farther into the woods, I saw that two saplings had been cut.

So at least one beaver has been back. So I began my hurried hike home, but had to pause to take a photo of a horsetail.

I also paused as I crossed the upper dam to take a photo of one stripped log, with my shadow looming over it,

and I noticed that I heard no rushing water. The water didn't seem that much lower, so perhaps the beavers worked their magic and patched the low holes. I'll check after the next heavy rain. I nosed over the otter latrines along the Lost Swamp Pond, nothing, stopped twice to scan for muskrats, none, and then only paused to eyeball some coyote prints in the mud on the Big Pond dam, and couldn't resist the shape, color and stripes of the algae and debris pinned by the northeast wind into the southeast corner of the pond,

but I didn't sit on my perch at the South End of the dam, the wind blew me home.

May 6 Tonight we spent our first night sleeping in our new house on the land, so after working we had the leisure to go botanizing. We rechecked the first wave of spring flowers along the mossy ridge, with a special eye for red trillium. Late in the afternoon one should approach the flowers with the sun at your back, which we didn't. So we actually missed some red trillium on the way down. That said we didn't see any in the usual places. Some hepatica are still out; the white trillium doesn't seem quite as vigorous in other years

The photo above somewhat captures the situation for every two big blooms there are more small plants that didn't bud. My theory is that this ridge had no snow cover during the intense February cold. Going into the sun proved the best way to see ferns. Fiddleheads are curling out

and some strange red curls were about too.

and a different kind of horse tail.

Canadian violet leaves are reaching up all over so it is just a question of finding the best stage on which to take a photo of them preparing for their first bow, so to speak.

There is a famous violet patch on the other side of the ridge, down from the bloodroot patch, but violets are just coming out, and I had forgotten some other promises. I went up to the Turtle Bog -- I had not gone back to
check on the wood frog eggs. But it was too late in the afternoon to get a good look at the pond. I went down to the flat under the pines by the Bunny Bog where we see our next round of flowers. Only the golden thread was out

After dinner I headed for White Swamp and on the way saw a porcupine high up on a small elm beside the road. I've never seen one reach so much, so gingerly, so balletically, and my being below didn't put a pause in its
high wire dance.

It seemed to be getting such meagre fare, but I've never tasted the first elm leaves. I stopped briefly at the Deep Pond and nothing was stirring there. Then I continued up the road and admired the sweep of trillium.
That's the boundary of our land -- all boundaries should be as beautiful in the spring

I was hoping to see muskrats and beavers in the huge swamp to prove that they had recovered from trapping. Last spring before the sun got too low I would usually see one or two muskrats. I thought my path along the steep ridge spanned two muskrat territories. Tonight nothing stirred in the west territory. I walked down to check the nearest otter latrine and beaver marking post. There was grass rolled up on a beaver's mound, such a large roll that I think a beaver did it, not a muskrat. No otter scats but the light was golden and made one
feel like a fool for looking for too much detail

So I climbed back up on the ridge and listened to the rails, snipes, and geese squabblings, and watched the swamp grow dark

which is actually a boss time for spying muskrats and beavers. Their wakes are silver on the dark swamp. But first I watched several herons sort themselves out, and took a photo of one that made me wish I had a better camera

but photos like this are travesty to the bird. It was not posing, it was after dinner, and soon turned and stabbed a fish half the size of its beak. Then I started seeing the wakes. Most were made by geese which became
apparent when two wakes converged and loud honking discussions followed. Then when it gets dark enough for the silhouettes of clumps of grass and dead logs to pretend to be higher life forms, I had to steady my eyes and look for twitches and subtle ripples. One two hump clump fooled me. Then I saw a silver wake heading right for it. Plus the wake maker kept diving, and all the diving ducks seem to have gone. By the broad angle of the wake I knew it was a beaver. When it swam past the clump I had been studying, I saw that it was a third of the size of the clump. I lost it in
the shrubby parts of the swamp. Meanwhile the peepers had started up with a few leopard frogs handling base. And no mosquitoes. Bit of schadenfreud, a beaver, but only one so far and no muskrats. I saw it again as it came closer to shore. I went the other way. Humans had given it enough trouble. In the darkness I saw that the pond behind the inlet dam was higher. Plenty of snipe in the bushes, no woodcocks. I stood by the Third Pond, our principal peeper music hall. Another porcupine, smaller, was in another elm, closer to the pond than the road, and it seemed undistracted by the concert. What can be so loud and less tiring than a chorus of peepers on a spring night? This was more sublime than symphony because there was no conductor and yet there was perfect unison and brilliant variations. I can never quite catch the theme if I could I wouldn't be writing this, I'd be one of them. Leslie heard a whip-poor-will.

In the morning we greeted our neighbors, phoebe and black and white warbler, who we had seen before. A myrtle warbler and rose breasted grosbeak were new. Then when I walked down the road I saw yellow warblers. The
porcupines had gone. Although it was after 8am, I still wanted to check the ponds, but a wood duck pair was on the Third Pond. When I walked up to the Deep Pond, I saw ripples and indeed a wind had just picked up blowing gently into my face, but there was something different about these ripples, and yes, a muskrat popped up in the vegetation below the knoll. I got some video of it, but it dove and disappeared before I could get a photo. Small muskrat which explains why I haven't seen too many signs of it. I continued down to where I had been last night, then over to check
the main otter latrine. It was all green, flanked by trillium. Full of color but the party is over. The beavers still push up some wet sticks and leaves. It got cold last night, below freezing and the red trillium was just recovering. Much more of
it down along the big swamp which was well covered with snow in February.

Last night the mud mound the beavers were making just off shore was a beacon of stripped logs; still there in the morning but duller. With the sun I could see how the beavers had dredged the area. Could this be the start of
a lodge?

The inlet dam was well mudded, and the leak through the bottom of the dam almost turned off

But there wasn't a huge amount of work around the dam, just a slim trunk girdled so delicately, a porcupine might have done it.

Along the widening pond shore and up the inlet creek, nicely backed up to an old otter latrine, I saw no beaver work, nor signs that a beaver, let alone an otter, had been there. I'd like to fashion a way to invite them both up to our pond -- the dam needs work.