Sunday, November 20, 2016

April 8 to 15, 2005

April 8 at first blush it seemed like a gentle morning and that lured us out into the boat. Then as we headed off, the sun went behind high clouds and the wind picked up from the west, making it a chilly ride, but not wet. The waves didn't kick up. As we headed toward Picton Island we passed a pair of mergansers in our cove, a few lines of chunky ice and then between Murray and Grinnell Islands we stirred up a dozen or so buffleheads. Coming around Murray to Picton I thought some goldeneyes flew off, but with the engine noise I couldn't hear their whistle. We went slowly back into the bay where a beaver stayed in a bank lodge in the fall. A pair of mergansers were on the ice. No sign of beavers. A tree was down but I am pretty sure they were cutting that in the fall. There were no little stripped sticks near the lodge. We went up to Picton point and got out. As I walked along the old otter scats, I saw two large and fresh scent mounds

with otter scat behind one

and on one,

and then another scat in front of the scent mound. All of the scats were mostly liquid without scales or bones. The one in the scent mound appeared clearer, more beige than black. I got the sense that the otter was claiming territory not doing the more mundane necessary, unloading the contents of its bowels. The recent rains pushed grasses up in some obvious rivulets, now dry. But these scent mounds were out of the drainage pattern. We admired the color of the water off the point,

and then I went back along the shore to check out an area that looked well used by something. This proved to be a nice little cliff side grotto with granite still dripping with moisture, but the only critters that seemed to have used it were deer. There were even deer bones, and much deer poop. The deer must have prized this area for being well out of the north wind, and exposed to the sun at dawn and for most of the day. There was a possible scent mound, more like a beaver's than an otter's. From the point we had noticed some snow still on the rocks along Grindstone Island, which seemed strange because that shore was exposed to the sun in the southern sky. The snow proved to be layers of ice driven up on the rocks by the wind, thickly enough that it still had not melted.

The ice had a beautiful blue tinge. Then we went back across Eel Bay to check the rock on Murray Island that the otters use for a latrine. Leslie was cold and I didn't get out on the rock but there didn't seem to be any scats there. Heading down to the Narrows, we went through a flock of swallows skimming along the surface of the water evidently getting insects to eat.

Leslie thought she saw one bug. While we often see swallows on the river and they commonly swoop close to the boat, this flock seemed oblivious to us and generally stayed in one area and low, not the usual wild forays up in the air which I assume are as much about the joy of flying so well as it is about getting bugs. Back in the channel, two ospreys are back beginning to work on their nest.

We spent 45 minutes at our land south of the river, and were pleased to hear the peepers blasting from several spots, especially behind the Third Pond and around the pool in the inner valley. I sat briefly above the First Pond around 5pm hoping a beaver would come out. I heard one humming, but only a muskrat made an appearance, swimming from the bank below where I sat over to and into the lodge; then up to the end of the pond and then back into the burrow below where I sit. Good to see the busy critter. The lack of obvious fresh beaver work around the pond suggests that with the snow long gone they are wandering further afield. I will have to check that out. When I say fresh work, I mean cutting trees for food. They did a nice job repairing the little dam below the big dam.

Mostly using dead grass to make the repairs
April 9 we spent the day working at our land. After having lunch listening to a few peepers around the Third Pond, and perhaps a comb frog or two (you need a mass to really get the effect,) we went up to the turtle bog and there was a large Blanding's turtle on the west bank with all of its shell just out of the water.

The shell was a dark green. Then as we moved along I saw what looked another, smaller Blandings.

Leslie was sure it was a rock and then just after she said she could see the lichens on it, the rock moved, thrashed a bit, turned and sank into the water. I stayed to see if it might resurface and Leslie went up the bog (as we call it, it's really just a narrow pool of water) to see if she could hear wood frogs that usually congregate here. Soon enough, even I could hear the wood frogs coming from where she had gone. When I went up to where they were, I could hear at least six of them and see some stirring in the water, but I couldn't see any. I headed back to the turtles on the west slope, the slope they were on. As I approached I could hear the wood frogs singing from right where we had been sitting. Then when I got down to the carpet of moss where, in other springs I have napped next to turtles, I saw what looked like a stick arching out of the water. I had a hunch it was the turtle, but its camouflage was so good that I approached a little closer before I got one of the cameras out, and it ducked into the water and sank deeper into the pool beneath all the litter. As I moved along that shore I am pretty sure I saw the other Blanding's higher on the bank and with its head facing the pool, but I didn't have a very good view. Down at the valley pool it looked like the beavers had made at least three paths up into the woods. I followed each and saw what looked like freshly cut birches

and one small pine, but the beavers didn't seem to go too far up into the woods. Not yet like last spring when they went up over the ridge. After sawing at the rock by the Teepee Pond, I checked for fresh beaver activity above the First Pond. A stripped stick was lying on the first dam up, so they have been about, but I didn't see any major work. The first pool up from the pond is now just a rivulet.

The beavers have patched and extended the dam above that, making a nice pool back to the debris from the red oak I cut, though it doesn't look like they took a bite out of that. I went back to the poplar grove and there was one cut that looked like it could be fresh, segmenting a log from the trunk of one of the last poplars they felled in the fall.

We got home a little before 5pm and I headed directly out to the ponds going over the TI Park ridge and down to the South Bay trail, where in other springs the otters have left a mark. There was none there today, although a fox left its. The rush of water from the second swamp has calmed enough so that one can step across on the rocks and no longer use the rickety old log bridge. No signs of otters down there and none up on the New Pond knoll. A heron flew out of the area. I sat on the knoll and was entertained by a downy woodpecker who didn't peck along the bark but deftly picked. The tree, maple probably, had a bit of bark recently stripped by a porcupine and it looked as if sap was coming down from the cut, and that's where the woodpecker was picking, either getting the bugs attracted to the sap, or enjoying the sap himself. A hawk flew high over head and a few flocks of robin sized birds that looked brown in the setting sun. I headed on up to the East Trial pond which is lower with pools in the upper areas shrinking and the channels through the area down to rivulets. 

Yet a heron was right in the middle of the largest pool behind the dam, along with four wood ducks. I checked for scats. It is up to the otter to show me that this pond is no longer of interest, I can't assume it just because all looks so meager. Crossing the dam I tried to get a picture to show the depth of the tunnel through the dam where water still flows copiously. 

This pond will get even lower. I also saw a broken white egg underneath one of the tall pines. The Second Swamp Pond did not look any larger, and despite the expanse there was only three pairs of buffleheads enjoying it. All was quiet above the lodge so I checked the dam where there were no new otter scats, nor any more dam patching. One patch looked precarious with water lapping over it.

The wind was not right for approaching the Lost Swamp Pond, and as soon as I came down the north slope, a beaver splashed. That's always disappointing, but the splash came from the bank lodge on the south shore, which is interesting because it shows that some of the beavers might be staying there. And indeed that beaver after investigating me swam back over to that lodge, and then when I left the pond it splashed from there again. So in the past three visits I thought the beavers were in the northeast lodge, the lodge in the middle, the lodge by the dam and the bank lodge on the south shore. There were no new otter scats on the north slope, and I noticed that the possible scat with mammal remains, now was dry and I could see the mammal bones and hair

but none of the dark sticky matter that holds an otter's scat together. This may be an owl pellet. I saw only a goose poop at the old rolling area. I sat down there and enjoyed the stillness of a goose on her eggs atop the lodge in the middle of the pond, and sorting out the ducks coming into view as they swam down from the southeast section of the pond. Mostly buffleheads and mallards. Then I saw a bit of commotion in the water and cocked my camera thinking an otter might be coming around. Then I caught something in the upper corner of my eye and an osprey flew in and perched in a dead tree in front of me, with a fish in one talon. For a bit it picked at the fish, the prey's tail twitching with every pick. Then it started bobbing and weaving its head to get a better look at me,

screeching twice as it did so, then flew off. I still had time to pick up on the other commotion and saw two muskrats swimming, but I missed the fight if there had been one, because they both disappeared. I saw more freshly stripped logs around the lodge by the dam, and the log still sticking up out of it. If the beavers were not so active there, I could blame a vandal, or if this was the season when men with rifles roamed around, but it isn't. I would take the thing out to see if it was put back in, but I hate disturbing the beavers, and even if a vandal stuck it in, it certainly doesn't bother the beavers. The beavers have been unable to quiet the flow from the dam, mostly coming from the repaired trench a hunter made. However, the Upper Second Swamp Pond dam is half patched and that pond has risen a foot or two. The beavers brought some logs to back up the weaker portions of the dam 

but haven't put mud in all the cracks so there are many leaks.

This hole had been gaping. I had easily put my hand with camera through it and probably could have stuck my head in it. I hope their patching this dam doesn't prompt them to forget building up the dam below. The Big Pond was all golden in the setting sun. The white and black bufflehead seemed jewel like as it glided on the surface of the pond,

as did the mallard drake as a pair came out of the grasses. A muskrat was swimming near the beaver lodge and then before I left I saw another muskrat swimming down from the far end of the pond. The patch on the dam looks higher, with more logs worked into the repair

but the beaver has another foot to add before the pond gets up to its old level. The pond looks so beautiful in spring evenings that it is always hard to leave.

April 11 turned rather chilly today, just 40 degrees, with a brisk northeast wind, but the sun stayed out. That is a good wind for watching the beavers in the Lost Swamp Pond so I waited until 5 pm before taking my hike so I'd be out there when the beavers started their day. I headed off to Audubon Pond first, checking latrines all the way. Nothing new at them but I did see a painted turtle hanging up in the water at the end of the south cove of South Bay. At the old dock I saw a bigger turtle briefly as it dove. It looked more rounded. Up at Audubon Pond I was greeted by a kingfisher chattering as it flew across the pond. That pond is higher and the beavers have mudded up the drain,

but in vain, there is still a rush of water going out. Seeing such clear evidence of beaver activity prompted me to check the recently downed ash trees along the north shore, and I can't say that I saw that much work at trimming or stripping them. These beavers must be after roots. I saw another small stripped stick near the bank lodge, where the water is deep enough for beavers to stay. As I sat on the bench I heard a leopard frog's snore-like call from the causeway. I headed up to Meander Pond, which remains full, but beaver watching there is better with a west wind. So after a few minutes of listening to the peepers, I moved on. The golden light so emphasized the stripping of a large downed oak that I wonder if it is fresh work. I took a photo to keep a record of it.

I also took a photo of one of the wonderful long canals in this section of the pond.

Usually there is a good chorus of peepers in Thicket Pond, but so far not this year. The upper East Trail Pond is quite dry, especially along the old bank beaver lodges that I've always thought were important dens for raising otter pups.

There is still a bit of snow on the edge of this pond.

The water level is now lower than I have ever seen it before, revealing sections of the old board walk that I didn't know were there. One section was near where the otters made their hole under the ice but I didn't see any evidence that the otters denned under it. The dead grass they spread under the ice was all in the other direction toward the dam. I studied the edges of the great hole through the dam and saw no evidence of otters planting themselves there. One year as the ice in Otter Hole Pond melted I did see piles of otter poop on the shore of a rivulet under the ice and pictured otters sitting there waiting for food to swim by. A heron was still parked in the middle of the East Trail Pond, and once again flew off. Over at the Second Swamp Pond some mergansers had joined the buffleheads. I sat for awhile, but all was quiet. I was pleased to see that the beavers have not forgotten this dam. There was more mud patching the dam, and the water level had risen a few inches.

There were no new otter scats but the sheet of mud revealed otter-like tracks. I never put it past a raccoon going through mud to torque its hand-like paw into more of a claw, and those tracks usually run parallel to the dam as this one did, and there is usually a bunch of tracks from the raccoon's mincing gait. This one print was parallel to the dam, but then a few feet on, another print turned to the pond.

Plus there was a scent mound there, though no scat. So I tend to think an otter left the print, but because that's what I hope for, I'll be skeptical about it until I get a real sense that the otter is still here. I angled up to the Lost Swamp Pond, pausing at two thin beech trees

that appear to have been stripped at the base by a porcupine.

I continued down the ridge so that I came down behind the bank lodge on the south shore with the wind in my face, a rather cold wind. I knew it would be hard waiting, but I tried. I heard and then saw the osprey flying low over the upper pond. One goose had a beef and the few ducks were peaceably separated into small groups. Then I noticed a beaver swimming between the lodges by the dam and in the middle of that section of the pond. It turned from the dam, paused at the middle lodge, swam around for a look down the long southeast section of the pond and then swam toward the bank lodge where I was. I waited for it to come around the bank, and first a muskrat steamed by me, then the beaver. It fiddled with a stick on the shore below me, may have sensed me, turned but didn't slap its tail, then dove, I think, into the bank lodge. To make a long and cold story short, two more beavers appeared both seeming to come down from the lodge to the northeast. One went up on the dam lodge where I think there is a scent mound, but both only swam to within ten yards of the dam and then turned away from it. One went back up to the northeast section of the pond, and the other, I think, eventually swam up into the southeast section of the pond. I was hoping to see again the drama of marking and remarking and sniffing that I saw the other day, but today these beavers were in a different, more relaxed mode. I saw another muskrat. Often at this time of year I see them assiduously marking logs, but these two rats only parked themselves up on logs and nibbled on the tender things they brought up from the pond. Chilled to the bone, I hurried on to the Big Pond, flushed the pair of mallards as usual. The other ducks were in the golden distance at the end of the pond. The pond looked a little bit higher, but as far as I could tell the beavers had not done more repairs. Water was generously lapping over the patch they made.

Then I saw a beaver well out in the pond. So often a beaver has cruised down toward me as I stood at this dam, and I fancied a photo of the critter behind its repair work, but the beaver swam over to the lodge and dove into it. I checked the otter latrine at the south end of the dam and there appeared to be something new,

but it was hard, not fresh. Still we are getting nights below freezing and I took a photo of scat in this area on April 6th and surely would have included this array in my photos. So an otter is getting about in these ponds, but it's nice to find a fresh and soft scat and then figuring an otter maybe denning near that latrine, come out early the next day to look for it. 

April 12 we spent a long day at the land, on a cold, good-for-sawing-wood day. I first checked the Deep Pond and since it was almost lunch hour, I lingered there for a half an hour hoping to find some signs of life. Now that the water has stopped rushing out of the dam, I have reconciled to myself to the unprecedented low water level, and find myself curious as to what plants will sprout on the newly exposed mud. I went to the west end of the pond, facing the wind, and sat, waiting for life, I told myself. I didn't have long to wait, a pair of mallards flew in. The drake didn't want to land but its mate did. When she flew out soon after, he gladly followed. Then about ten minutes later, I saw some bubbles in the middle of the pond and then up popped a muskrat, with tail cocked. It dove before I could get a photo but came up again, swam toward the far shore, dove and I didn't see it again. Then I walked around the pond and as I walked up the high bank of the pond, a frog jumped into the water, right at the spot where, judging from the pale brown color of the bottom, the muskrat was making its den.

After lunch I headed up to my sawpit by the Teepee Pond via the Turtle Bog. I wanted to see if the Blanding's turtles were out. The wood frogs were croaking, until I got there. I stayed on the west side of the bog and just when I arched up to inspect the mossy blanket where I've often see turtles, a Blanding's high tailed it, high domed it, I should say, into the pond. I looked around for the other and saw nothing, but thought it prudent to go over to the other side where I could get a better view. I saw what looked like a gray rock below a ledge. I went over there and found a turtle,

quite quiet, hardly blinking as I inched closer to it.

Its shell was half in the sun and it refused to withdraw its face which also caught some sunlight. I stuck my camera in its face,

and made it suffer the indignity of a turn over. 

Perhaps by comparing its bottom with the bottoms we've photographed here over the years, we can prove that this turtle is an old friend. I'd say its shell was just nine inches long, by no means one of the biggest turtles we've seen, but clearly, with it concave bottom, a venerable male. I wonder how it puts up with its rather jumpy companion. After sawing for a couple hours, I tried to see what was new around the beaver pond. There were three painted turtles sunning on a log behind the dam, which has been repaired, raising the water and joining the ponds.

Several ironwoods have been tasted. The ironwood cut at the end of the pond has been trimmed, and the mud between the big pond and the valley pool has been turned over.

Leslie thinks they were trying to dig a canal. I think they were looking for something to eat. The mud is left in many balls, not pushed back in the orderly fashion that canal building might entail. That said, since there was no moss here, I am hard pressed to suggest what they might be eating. Perhaps they fancy the tiny roots in the dirt. But to prove this, I have to get down on my hands and knees and find some cut roots! We logged in another newcomer today, finally hearing a towhee on the slope below the Third Pond. I also saw a small muskrat in that pond, and there is a loud comb frog there.

April 13 a little after 2 pm, I headed off to check the otter latrines on Picton and Murray islands. The river was starting to respond to a light north wind which meant it was easy going along the south side of the islands. Of course the ice was out of the Picton bay freeing the bank beaver lodge so I went back to see if an otter might have revisited an old latrine down there. I moved a heron along, and a pair of mallards moved back into the reeds. I didn't see any fresh scat or commotion on shore. I rowed up to the beaver lodge and started noticing stripped sticks along the shore. Of course these could have been blown into the bay by the persistent east winds we've been having, but it also looked like there had been fresh work on the large tree felled, I thought, in the fall.

However, before proclaiming that a beaver was about, I checked the lodge which was ashen gray not at all relieved by the yellow or white of a stripped stick. The wind was picking up so I motored up to the point, saw another heron in the shallows and an osprey high in the trees, and got out there like we did a few days ago. While there were no fresh scats, there were quite a few hard black scats that were new to me in the same general area where I saw scats the other day. We've had rather dry days, with nights just below freezing which could quickly harden the scats. Then I went over to the latrine on the large rock jutting off Murray Island. The cold kept me from going up on the rock last time we were here. Today it looked more interesting, with a patch of dirt that looked freshly gone over, perhaps by a rolling otter. 

While I didn't find scat close to that I did find several scats above it,

plus dug out grass, and bare dirt.

I also checked the western face of the rock where I found scats a few times last year. There were scats there too, and dug out turf. Like at the Picton latrine, the scats were black and hard. I also found a generous spread of old scat, now just white bones and gray scales.

I think I stopped checking this latrine in November which means the otters kept using it, perhaps until ice closed Eel Bay. This rock, fortunately not built upon, is one of the romantic spots along Eel Bay,

and so is the latrine on Picton. That the otters enjoy these spots two, which are largely unprotected, makes me wonder if the little devils might have an aesthetic sense! I went slowly through the Narrows, didn't see any scat on the rocks, and so I didn't get out to check. I rowed down the north shore of South Bay noticing that every willow had been trimmed and gnawed by the beavers. Some looked fresh, but this is very hard to tell. I got out at the docking rock and there was a new scat or two, black but not quite as hard as the other scats I discovered today

I walked up to Audubon Pond and heard two, perhaps three osprey overhead and finally saw one. I walked around the pond noticing more mud on the drain and much more work on the shore near the bank lodge, including a scent mound and stripped sticks and some sticks just getting the treatment. Also to my surprise a cache had reappeared at the lodge.

It looked like a beaver had collected branches from the ash trees just cut down. However, I didn't see any evidence of stripping. The beavers who came in here two years ago struck me as greenhorns, doing things differently than other beavers, like the orderly way they harvested cattails for a time. Not that they made a spring cache last year. Perhaps the female is pregnant and these are preparations necessary because a ready supply of trees is not that close. Well, I'll see what happens. When I went back to the boat at the docking rock I noticed a freshly severed fish tail on the ground.

At first look I thought it was a bird's wing. This could have been left by an otter but there are other hungry piscivores around. The wind picked up too much to make any more exploring along South Bay pleasant. So I headed home. The ducks were widely dispersed today, mostly buffleheads, and all of them in pairs. When I got near our dock I noticed three, then five ospreys gyrating above me. They all seemed to be vocalzing and all circling higher and higher. I docked the boat, and saw that the ospreys were lower again, and it looked like there were two pairs with one bird flapping a bit above the other. Then I saw the other osprey, and perhaps a sixth unless it was a curious raven or vulture. This congregation continued out around the navigation cell where they make a nest each year and further out up the river.

April 15 Ottoleo took me over to the Narrows a little after 2 pm on another sunny day in the mid-50s with a calmer north wind. I checked the otter latrine above the rock that slants down into the water 

and found four new scats, still black but hard and dry

like the scats I found at the Murray Island latrine two days ago. O for a fresh scat. There were also some piles of grass. I walked along the trail toward and then along South Bay and checked the latrine above the rock cliff which strikes me as the most difficult latrine for otters to get to. I discovered it in the early winter when it seemed to make sense as a latrine because it roughly corresponded to where the ice of South Bay ended. I had my doubts that otters would use it when the ice was gone, but I was wrong.

There were three or four new black, hard scats there too. I couldn't discern a trail up into the area. 

I walked down to the flat rock next to the water, where the otters had scatted in the winter, but didn't see any new scats there. I walked down to the docking rock and thought I saw some new scats on the rock, quite smeared though and one looked like it had seeds in it, next to squirts that definitely had scales. It's possible these are old scats that I simply overlooked before, however, up on the rotting tree trunk at the crest of the little four foot high cliff were drips of definitely new scats, some dripping off the log making a big pile on a dead leaf.

But these scats were also hards. The air has been so dry and the wind so persistent, all the scats it appears are drying out in a matter of hours. One of the scats also seemed to have seeds in it.

And that bothers me. Could it be fish roe? or is a raccoon with diarrhea turned to hard pooping on a log like an otter? I walked up to Audubon Pond and walked around it. The pair of geese acted like they were used to me. There was more mud on the drain, slowing the outflow. I think it will be impossible to stop it. The pond water level is still high. There were no scats on the embankment. The beavers also left a few mud scent mounds there. There was nothing new along the shore save that park employees had cleared the hiking trails of beaver-felled ash trees. The cache outside the lodge actually looked bigger.

Ash is a dry white wood and this time of year on a bright sunny day fresh cuts don't stand out, but I saw some new cuts the beavers had made including a nip on a large cherry tree. 

Plus they have begun trimming the crown of one of the ash they cut down a few days ago. There was also a pair of mallards in the pond, foraging below where the geese hang out on the causeway. The bigger birds gave them courage. As I walked along the causeway, they simply swam out into the pond like the geese, rather then flee in a quacking huff like most mallards. The next latrine I checked was above the old dock at the end of South Bay and there was nothing new there, save for a painted turtle on a dead tree in the water. The turtle's shell was rather black. I decided to sit below the latrine to see what might be happening in the warming water and saw that I plopped myself down right above a muddy beaver scent mound.

And I could see some gnaws in the exposed roots of a large pine tree.

Some beavers are back in South Bay. Last year I thought the beavers in Audubon Pond moved out into the bay and then back into the pond, but perhaps not this year since there is simultaneous activity in both venues. I completed my tour of latrines by checking the New Pond knoll where there was no new activity, and hard to see any old scats there now. My guess is that the recent deposits in the latrines on Murray Island and along South Bay were made by the band of four males that I began noticing two years ago. The mother otter is somewhere in the swamps with newborns, and the pup from last year, well, I headed into the beaver ponds to look for it. However, I first checked out Meander Pond where I have never seen otter signs along the shore. Even though the wind was at my back from the east, I sat on the eastern shore of the pond to see if a peeper chorus would pick up. Then I noticed that the trunk of the oak felled in the late fall looked rather gnawed from this angle, just as it did the other day when I looked at it from the other side of the pond. The ground southeast of this pond is always soggy. The bank of the pond is really another dam. I noticed that the beavers had repaired a portion of this dam, heaping mud up, which now looked dry, and walking along this back dam,

I was able to get to the oak. I could see the fresh beaver trails from the nearby and muddy canal too it. 

And I noticed that the west side of the trunk had few gnaws. The beavers had stripped most of the bark off. However, the east side, farther away from the canal, was rather roughly gnawed.

While sitting at this pond, I could hear a loud chorus of comb frogs (actually western chorus frogs) coming from Thicket Pond. I went up there and enjoyed the raspy harmonies that sounded just like the tangled bare button bush branches looked.

Then I moved onto the drained East Trail Pond. The heron did not fly off today, but I saw other signs of life, a muskrat swimming toward the dam. It dove quickly and didn't come back up so I missed getting a photo of it. There were several small painted turtles on the logs behind the dam.

I walked out on the old boardwalk that now provides an overview of the mud and a good look at one of the channels that still has flowing water.

Using my imagination I could conger some of the prints in the mud near the boardwalk as otter and even beaver, but muskrat, raccoon and goose are more likely. Behind the dam I saw some scratching in the mud, probably by a raccoon. I checked the otter latrines and found nothing, but I do expect an otter to return. All the sun has got the pond, diminished as it is, wiggling with life. As I walked along the shore several tadpoles wiggled into deeper water. Indeed, when I got to the expanse of the Second Swamp Pond, that two weeks ago thrilled me with anticipation of lively activity, I found all that deep water dull, since the geese, buffleheads and wood ducks using it were now old hat. I sat for a bit above the bank lodge and then walked across the pond on the dam. The beavers continue to make repairs, 

even to the most precarious spot. The dam still leaks but improvements look more permanent. I didn't see any hints of otter. I saw an interesting looking fish, a few inches long, swimming in the flow below the dam, a grass pickerel fry?

Since it was too early in the afternoon to expect beavers to come out, the remainder of the hike was mostly a search for a sign of that one year old otter I expect is still around. I didn't find any new scat along the north shore of the Lost Swamp Pond. I walked over the ridge and down to the Second Swamp Pond and saw nothing new. The beavers have done more work on the Upper Second Swamp Pond dam. The leaks are down to a trickle and the water is almost brimming the pond.

I went back up to the Lost Swamp Pond and sat on the bank briefly. One always owes a big pond twenty minutes of communion and I noticed muskrats out at the point. Then a flicker landed on a dead post before me in the pond, with two wide holes. 

It went into one before I could get a photo and didn't come out. As I poised for that photo, the osprey flew over, fish in talons, and lit up on a branch so I couldn't really see it. I could see that it saw me so I wiggled about to get it to move. It flew off, and at first, flew away, then it circled back over me.

This osprey, a young one I bet, always seems to have a fish in hand and so seems to have time to look at me from all the angles a lazy spiral can afford. I checked the dam, which has a bit of fresh mud on it, but it still leaks a good bit. As I crossed the dam, a muskrat swam into the beaver lodge there. No sound of beavers. Finally I checked the Big Pond dam and there was nothing new there. No more dam repairs and no new otter scats. I still think the otter is around these ponds. Both are rather large and there are many latrines I can't get to. I could have sat and watched a red wing black bird who last time out and today seemed rather possessive of a muskrat lodge, but it was dinner time.