Sunday, September 22, 2019

More beaver lore

When my granddaughter was little, I took her places; to the parks, on gentle hikes, sometimes up steepish hills. She ran ahead, and I followed as quickly as I could. Sometimes, I had to rescue her; not often.

These days, when she visits, I take her to my favourite places, sometimes up and down steep hills. And she still runs ahead. And I still follow her, but slowly, cautiously. She hasn't had to rescue me yet, though.

I took her to see the beaver pond.

The beaver lodge, as I have always seen it, from the side of the highway.

We went down the back trail, to look at the pond from the other side.

The water lilies are almost all dried and brown now. Good beaver food.

On the way back, she headed off, straight through the bush where I had sort of wished I dared go, to see the beaver lodge from the back side. I followed her, one careful step at a time until I reached her, standing on a rise, looking down on the lodge.

The lodge, from the back side. The beavers have made a sort of trail over the muddy back end.

After that, we had to hike up the road and scramble through the bush to the other end of the pond, to get another view. I didn't make it down the last hill, and looked for mushrooms while she took water-level photos. On the way back, we passed a gap in the trees that gave us a glimpse of a muddy bank. And it was full of beaver tracks!

Beaver tracks, going and coming. The heavy tail blurs many of the tracks as the beaver walks, but there are a few, in the left angle of the X of branches, that show the five strong toes. It looks like the beaver's trail heads into the bush just behind them.

The beaver's front paws are smaller, the rear ones are as big as my hands. The hind toes are webbed, but not the front ones.

Since beavers live near water, their tracks are often found in mud, which gives good detail to the prints. Beaver tracks show webbing on the hind feet. Hind tracks can easily be six to seven inches long. All feet have five toes. The prints show five toes on the hind feet and four toes on the front feet. The fifth front toe sometimes registers, but not on all surfaces. Front tracks can be two to three inches long. Claw marks show in the tracks. Beavers walk plantigrade, or flat-footed. The large tail sometimes leaves a drag mark in the trail. (https://www.bear-tracker.com/beaver.html)

Reading up on beavers, trying to confirm that these were, in fact, beaver tracks (but what else could they be, behind a beaver lodge?) I learned of a couple more features that I should be able to find in the area: scat, sometimes deposited on the edge of the pond, and scent mounds.

Beavers establish scent posts near their ponds. These are composed of a mound of mud, grass and sticks piled up into a dome-shaped mass. The beaver rubs castoreum on the mound. Some of these mounds can be huge, measuring a foot tall and three feet across.(Bear Tracker)

I think I know where to look for these. A project for next summer!

And I still haven't seen hide nor hair of a beaver here!


3 comments:

  1. One year a pair of beavers came up the small creek behind our condo in Bellingham. They chewed down all of the willows and even took down a lovely old apple tree from homestead days in the area. You could stand on the sidewalk and watch them around their dam and lodge. Unfortunately, the dam backed up too much water and caused drainage problems so a trapper was called in to remove them. I sure hope they got a relocation rather then a death sentence. It's nice to have a bit of the bush here in the city. - Margy

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  2. I saw what my friend told me was an old lodge in Stanley Park (Vancouver, but I didn't see a beaver.

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