Monday, December 15, 2014

Beavers, Skating, and Snowshoe Hares

 I am very excited to say that after almost a year of looking around to find a beaver to observe, I have discovered a beaver living a 5 minute walk from my house! I first noticed some trees that had fallen over on my regular walking rote and upon closer inspection, it looked to me as though a beaver had chewed them. The next day I did some more exploring and found a whole lot of evidence of beaver activity.
Here are drag marks made by the beaver as he dragged trees that he cut down.
 And here are some stumps left by the beaver.
 Here are the beaver's footprints in the snow.
 They are surprisingly big!
 This looks like a text book example of a beaver-felled tree.

 It looks as though the beaver is working at cutting this thick log into sections.
 I haven't discovered a lodge yet. It is somewhat unusual to see such a burst in activity this late into winter. I've been talking with a man who studies beavers in New York state and we agree that it is possible that this is a young beaver who has been searching for a new territory to make a home in. It is likely that he has just recently come to the area and has no larder of branches in the water under the ice for his winter food and therefore has to come out to cut down trees for food. He may also be living in a hole in the creek bank, instead of a lodge. The man I have been talking with says that usually beavers will build a lodge after they find a mate, and a big lodge when kits are on the way. Most of the behaviours that we associate with beavers happen when the beavers have kits- bachelor beavers may behave in ways that we don't typically think of when we think of beavers. I look forward to observing this beaver's activity and hopefully I'll spot the beaver himself one of these days!

 The weather has been strange this winter. We have had some very cold snaps, and some very warm spells with very little snow. Currently there is hardly any snow left on the ground. Not enough for skiing or snowshoeing, but the lake is just right for skating. There is no snow over the frozen expanse of the lake, making a perfect 66km ice rink.  We went out yesterday and Kesten tried skating for the first time on real skates. He loves it! He keeps begging us to go back. It looks like we'll have at least another week of snow-free weather to enjoy the lake for skating. After that we'll move to the outdoor oval that they make at the high school.

Yesterday I also went for my weekly ramble in the woods. As I was heading up the trail, I caught sight of a snowshoe hare bounding ahead of me. I walked a little further and then plopped down into the snow to sit quietly and watch. At first the forest is silent as it cautiously observes me but after a few minutes of stillness on my part, the forest accepts my presence. The quiet gives way to the noise of the chickadees chirping and the squirrels scolding. Twigs snap in the forest, as unseen animals move about. I sat still and quiet for about twenty minutes. Finally, growing tired of being still and frozen in the butt, I turned my head to look behind me. There on the edge of the trail I saw a snowshoe hare, quietly watching me. He froze when I moved, hoping that his camouflage would keep him safe and I snapped a quick picture (too bad it didn't focus on him!).
As I shifted my body around to get into a better position, he took one hop, back into the cover of the bushes, but keeping one eye on me. I took another picture and then he disappeared from sight. 
I went for a little walk down the trail and returned to my spot. I stood quietly and again the snowshoe hare emerged from the forest and dashed across the trail to a spot below. I later realized that I was standing between the snowshoe hare and a delicious smorgasbord. Someone had previously felled some trees for firewood and the branches on the ground made for an irresistible snack. As I was leaving the forest I walked past this site and again observed the snowshoe hare bounding away from me. The temptation for that tasty bark must have been competing against his fear of me. It was a treat to see this wonderful wild creature.


  1. Wow! The things you get to experience, I am in awe. Love the experiences your kids are getting! Can't believe how fast Cedar and Kesten are growing. Love the rabbit and beaver(evidence) photos

    1. Thanks! I do love living here! And I too, cannot believe how fast Kesten and Cedar are growing!


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