Sunday, September 23, 2012

June 26 to 30, 2012

June 27 Yesterday I took a quick look at the Deep Pond. The water level has dropped and the northwest shore where I could no longer walk around was now mud and easy to walk on.

In the little cove where the beavers maintained scent mounds, the water retreated and the scent mounds are covered with vegetation.

The shallows on the west side of the knoll has delicate green grass growing throughout almost two feet high.

There is a nice patch of cattails in the vernal pool just up from the pond.

But these beavers don’t have a taste for cattails. The last time I stood close to the knoll in the bright late-morning sun, the smaller beaver swam out into the pond. Not today. Last night we took a walk after dinner with our friend Doug. After two nights of dark cloudy evenings we enjoyed the clear air and sunset. We don’t have a clear view of the sunset from our land but we do see the sun shining high on the trees which always makes a brilliant contrast with the dark green leaves. Unfortunately neither of my cameras was able to capture the beauty of the scene.

While enjoying that I saw a muskrat swim out into the middle of the Deep Pond. Down where the road flanks White Swamp we could see the clouds turned yellow by the setting sun. I also took a photo of the Turk’s cap lily which has been blooming for a week or so.

Turning around we saw a rainbow.

We still have a bit of humidity from the past two cool and rainy days. This morning was sunny and cool and I did my duty by wearing down the trails. I crossed the inner valley at three different places. Heading out I crossed at the end of Ripple Rock trail, then went up the ridge, turned left but this time stayed close to the ridge. Where the ridge began to slope down I saw a ripple rock that had what looked more like waves than ripples.

A geology book I have makes a distinction between waves and ripples and I’ll have to study this to see if it is an example of the former. I took a photo looking back along the ridge which may give me a clue later when I want to find this rock.

I was carrying an old thin axe to see if I could use it to break off a good chunk of the ripple rock just off the Appleweg that I’ve been eyeing. It worked better than I thought it would.

I brought that back to the house and I still have to study the back of the rock behind. I thought there would be two planes of ripples but it doesn’t looked like it. Is it possible that these ripples are made from the stress of fracturing? Then I moved some thin ash trunks that the beavers cut two years ago, should make good kindling. Before lunch I sat down at the Third Pond where I heard green frogs below me, and saw several heads just up out of the water in the shallows. Those frogs were quiet but jerked after insects now and then. Then I went down to the Deep Pond and first sat on my chair on the east side of the pond. Nothing was stirring. The pond has lost a foot or so of water. The lower water level has not revealed many lily pads, certainly not the bumper crop of last year. But there is other vegetation in the pond’s shallows and plenty surrounding it.

I checked the area along the shore where the beavers have done a lot of nibbling, and didn’t see anything indicating they had been there recently.

The vegetation has been worn away outside of a burrow on the low shore but muskrats could be living there.

Two green frogs, one quite large, were there enjoying the bright sun.

I walked up the inlet creek and did see two sticks collected by the beaver and left along the creek.

I also saw a three toed print in the mud but that could be from a heron. I see one here now and then. The creek itself looked a bit muddy.

I could see that frogs and little fish were using it. I crossed the ravine and enjoyed, along with many deer flies, the just dry ground. Here too were plants the beavers could eat including cattails, but no signs that they ate any.

I got to the shore near the bank lodge and saw no signs of beaver activity there and no trails in the vegetation collecting in front of the lodge. In the shallows along this shore there are plenty of the plants with the small pads, about half the size of the lilies that bloom.

I went up and over the knoll and made more noise than usual clawing through the thick honeysuckle. I hoped to prompt a beaver to swim out into the pond, but none did. After lunch I remembered to check on the pickerel weeds at the Teepee Pond. I went via the valley and so I walked along the clumps on the south and east shore,

where I think the muskrats have a burrow. In addition to the several clumps along the pond shore, the usual clump in the now almost dry canal between the two ponds was doing well.

Looking over at the glorious clump on the north shore, I could see that the muskrats and turtles are keeping the pond muddy.

Before checking the clumps of pickerel weed on the north shore, I checked the vernal pool above the First Pond. On the way I saw a blue flag iris. I have seen very few this year, don’t know why.

There is still a good bit of water in the pool above the First Pond.

Then I sat on the rock at clearing I made on the north shore of Teepee Pond. First I appreciated the mass of flowering plants, the biggest clump I’ve ever seen.

To the side of me, there was a small clump which showed the elegance of the stalks to advantage.

Then I stood up and took a close up of one flower, which perhaps looks a little to flighty, but seen up close, the big leaves have their own elegant curves.

We haven’t seen honeybees in our gardens but I saw them working the many blue petals. One bumblebee flew through, and one small yellow butterfly. Dragonflies flew over the blooms but did not land on them. To get back to the house I continued walking around the Teepee Pond, avoiding the grove of prickly ash that is getting big enough to be wary of, 7 years after the beavers cut it down. I walked along our boundary line and, of course, boundaries with barbed wire fences help preserve big trees. A beautiful grove of stately ferns flourished under them.

Some crowd against an anvil shaped rock which I think is noticed in some deeds for this land as a marker.

Looks like bracken, from how I read the guide books. Before I went swimming back on the island, I saw the golden eye ducklings again.

They can all dive, and their mother down kept a watchful eye on the surface of the river.

It is quite a treat seeing them, not seeing them and then all popping up almost at once. I went down to the Deep Pond after dinner and sat from 8:45 to 9:15. When something swam out from the knoll it was too dark to be sure if it was a beaver or muskrat. Standing on shore I thought it was the latter. Looking at the video, I think it was the smaller beaver. The green frogs had a pretty good chorus and the thrushes were sweetly singing. I heard a barred owl warming up, and then the whippoorwill. A woodcock flew up off the gravelly road. There was a huge swarm of mosquitoes but they must have been males, very few bothered me.

June 28 hot days and not much rain has me pumping and hauling water to the gardens. And I finally resumed splitting the maple logs I cut in the fall. They are on the west side of the Boundary Pond and during my breaks I inspected what remains of the beaver pond. There is still enough water behind the dam to just fill the channels that go around the lodge, and east of the lodge in the only shade that remains there is a semblance of a small pond.

And there is water in the channel going up the pond, not very deep but deep enough so that it is not choked with vegetation.

Two years ago a beaver swimming up that channel soon found itself in a wide upper pond, not so today. Looked at from some angles, all is vegetation.

But you can part the tall grasses and see duck weed and other low vegetation with a pool of water underneath.

Last year as the pond dried blue flag iris got a head start on other vegetation and there were several blooms. This year there are none so the first flowers are the pink swamp milkweed.

A week ago there was still a trickle of water coming down from the Last Pool. There is no more water trickling down and where the old channel gets sunlight it is thick with vegetation.

I think the lower layer, if you will, of vegetation is a stubby dark green plant that so far doesn’t show any inclination of putting out a flower. I can see the carpet of that plant clearly where the sun cuts across the dry channel,

which I suppose I may as well call a ditch, because even though the beavers dug it for east of transportation, hence a channel or canal, now it is more or less a drainage ditch,

Though at some points it flattens out into a muddy pathway.

And at some deep points where the beavers had to engineer their channel under roots, there is still enough water to afford hiding places for frogs that jumped in as I walked by.

But when I got up to the Last Pool, where I could almost walk anywhere, calling the channel a ditch seemed unfair because ditching implies disciplining the surrounding land. And while the beavers did make channels branching off from the main channel, they were not straight nor designed to dry to land. And while the beaver cut trees and vegetation they did not clear the land. On June 30 I took photos updating the changes and off toward the shady side of the old pond, I found a beautiful mix of blue flag fronds, ferns and grasses.

and a spot of shade. Except for three tall poplars and a few birch, most of the tall trees around the Last Pool survived the beavers. They didn’t show much interest in the maples and while they half cut and girdled a white oak, it is still alive. However, a pine tree in the middle of the pond seems to be fighting for its life.

Smaller maples and shrubs like winterberry that the beavers cut are roaring back and lush with leaves.

Little is growing where the beavers piled their stripped logs, but long grasses surround the pile.

Before the beavers came the shady pools of water here survived longer. Here is a photo taken July 14, 2007.

Even if we get plenty of rain in the next two weeks, this area won’t look like that. Vegetation has consumed the old wetland primarily because of that ditch the beavers dug.

I took most of those photos on the 30th with my camcorder and after taking them I decided to walk down the old pond all the way until I could see the Boundary Pond dam with my camcorder running. No narration, since I am not sure if anything needs to be said. But there is audio with the clip. Unfortunately the bird song is not remarkable but the constant crunching noise made by my steps through the vegetation is. That’s the noise of hundreds of sticks the beavers collected and nibbled along their main channel.

I don’t think I ever walked my camcorder down the length of the pond while the beavers were there, but I’ll try to piece together some clips that might show the ponds in their prime two years ago. Back on June 28, which is what this entry is supposed to be about, I brushed and washed the sample of ripple rock I had cut off a bigger sandstone rock.

Taken out of its rock cradle the slab is at one less impressive and more interesting, a tiny piece of an ancient river flowing toward me? I also cleaned up the other side and took a photo.

I’m not sure how to interpret that. At least this is something solid and enduring to think about.

June 30 after pumping water I headed down to haul out some maple logs. I went via Ripple Rock Trail and took the clippers to clear honeysuckle back from the route I’ve decided to take across the valley. I angled to the right of the pool of water at the foot of the ridge. Then I walked down the shady side of the valley and sat briefly to contemplate the now dry Last Pool. The grasses, other low vegetation and winterberry are doing great. I waded through the grasses now growing in one of the lateral beaver channels. My impression is that there is a good diversity of vegetation but I am no expert about that. Then I took some video as I turned around in a circle trying to see all the pool, That seemed a reasonable thing to do so I walked down the main beaver channel to Boundary Pond. The channel is almost completely dry and, because of the deep channel, the valley is drier than usual. After hauling a couple logs out, I went down to the Third Pond which is getting shallow enough so that I can see bottom everywhere. I also saw tadpoles floating in the water everywhere and two side by side showed what metamorphosis is all about.

Today there seemed to be even more green frogs cocked up waiting for insects.

I saw a lot more jumping around than usual.

There also seemed to be more dragonflies flitting about, all white tails I think. I could hear catbirds and saw black birds. No muskrats appeared. After dinner I went down to the Third Pond again. The green frogs began a chorus and some were still jumping about. I saw a rabbit hopping along the shore of the pond, oddly enough I‘ve never seen that before. The cat birds were more melodious. No muskrats. Then at 8:45 I went down to the Deep Pond I sat in the chair by the west shore, noticed a green frog just below me

It hopped off, but when the nightly chorus began, I noticed another frog just below me at a perfect angle for me to see its bulging throat when it chimed in with the chorus.

I kept scanning the pond for a beaver, and just before it got too dark to see, I saw one swimming slowly in the middle of the pond.

It swerved and slowly same closer to me and didn‘t seem to react. Then when it swam to the middle to the pond again, it found something to eat.

It soon dove and when it surfaced it swam over to the burrow in the southeast corner of the pond where I think it is denning. But it didn‘t dive into that burrow. It swam along the east shore of the pond where the high slope has several burrows in it. Then it climbed up on the bank.

It seemed to first eat some grass then it nosed into the nearby vegetation and took that into the pond and then into the burrow in the southeast corner of the pond.

This is the liveliest I‘ve seen a beaver here in a week and that it took something into the burrow suggests that there might be kits in there.