Friday, January 17, 2014

Beavers in winter

What: On our wander, I wanted to show Clay the new beaver pond. Clay and I have been exploring the various iterations of beaver ponds in Centennial for about 5 years now and he hadn't seen the new neighbors since they moved in sometime around the beginning of October.

Ecological notes: For the 4th year in a row, beavers adopted Centennial Woods in the middle of fall, which is a rather late start as far as beavers go. Typically beavers have their winter homes already staked out and built up by the end of summer. In a new area without previous beaver structures, they'll first dam up the river and live in a burrow in the bank while raising water levels high enough to where they can build a lodge in the newly formed pond. They won't start caching (storing for later) food to last them through the winter until sometime in the fall when the trees have stored more sugars in the bark. To be doing all of this in the late fall is quite the herculean effort.

Three years ago a family moved in after Hurricane Irene, made it through the winter and left in the spring. This repeated the past two years as well, and not to disappoint, beavers moved back in this fall around the beginning of October.

I've been away the last month and went to check in on them as soon as I got back. The pond is open thanks to the recent rains and warmer weather and their dam is active and in good shape. No lodge, so they must be nesting in a bank, but haven't found that spot yet.

Where: Centennial Woods, upstream for Fox Meadow by Centennial Field.

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